Prior to Lee Mancini’s presentation on Search & Social in the Middle East at the International Search Summit in London, he proclaimed in a post here on our blog:
“There is no greater evidence of the growth of digital in the Middle East than with the occurrence of the Arab Spring. In only a few months this event completely altered the political landscape, a landscape which remained unchanged for previous decades. The advent of digital mobile connections, the ability to connect and communicate (and organise) on social networks, the sheer power of the medium to communicate to millions broke the tipping point and took everyone by surprise.”
No doubt social media played a fundamental part in the uprising and democratisation of the Arabic world, yet a recent infographic about Facebook users in Arabic countries shows there’s still plenty of growth potential in the social media space throughout the region. While Facebook is not surprisingly the most popular social network site by far, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon and Kuwait are the only countries throughout the region with more than 30 percent penetration – and in no country is the penetration rate higher than 40 percent.
The infographic didn’t say, however, whether these figures represent the penetration of the overall population or just the internet population – a quite important metric. In either case, there is still room for growth, especially when taking into account Facebook’s astonishing reach in many markets worldwide.
Following the opening of its office in Dubai – a proof of the company’s increasing interest in the MENA region – Facebook has announced what looks to be the first new localised feature for the Arabic market.
Through local research, in particular focus groups, Facebook has identified a strong wish from Arabic natives to include an “Insha’Allah” (Arabic term to indicate hope for an aforementioned event to occur in the future) button for Facebook events.
However small this current adding, it’s indicative of Facebook now actively trying to adapt its product to better reflect and accommodate the specific needs of the Arabic world, and representatives from Facebook Arabia have already made it very clear that this is just the first of many alterations to come.
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