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social media use in Arab World

Could social media really open up new frontiers to the economic empowerment of Arab Youth?

October 7, 2012 6:21 by



The youth in the Arab world is, and have been for some time now, challenging and engaging their governments to use social media effectively. We have seen the strength of social media’s impact in terms of influence and unity towards governmental and political reform but the next step – with the drive from the unemployed youth in the Arab world – is whether they can use social media for entrepreneurial and developmental efforts, according to a comprehensive study by the Dubai School of Government.

Kipp is aware of how popularly explosive social media use has become but an overwhelming 90 percent of this survey’s respondents described it as useful within a business as a promotional tool, including marketing and advertising. For entrepreneurs worrying about getting their start-ups to explode, 85 percent of them looked at social media as a key factor to help expand their customer base or raise awareness and just over 80 percent found its use in reaching beyond the normal target audience. Could social media really open up new frontiers to the economic empowerment of Arab Youth?

The Arab world, particularly among the digitally savvy, continues to be on a social media and digital frenzy. Did you know that the region’s online population roughly generates 67 tweets per second, 3993 tweets per minute and 5,750,386 every day? GCC countries dominate the top five Arab Facebook users as percentage of population.

The UAE remains at the top of the Arab region, followed by Kuwait, while Qatar has found its way back into the top five. Lebanon and Jordan take up the remaining spots.

Young tech-savvy users have helped push the use of social media in the region, divided among those using it for social and commercial ends and those using it for several purposes like job hunting or gathering information. Companies particularly in the private sector are quickly catching up on to the advantage of engaging with users on social media.

There were some interesting key conclusions to the survey that spanned across eight countries in the Arab World:

Perceptions of key benefits: Across the region, the most beneficial aspect of social media for businesses is deemed to be its promotional and outreach capacity.

Social media and Education: Beyond its benefits for businesses and enterprise, social media is perceived as a necessary and even transformational tool for education.

Drawbacks for Business: Negative connotations attributed to social media use in business largely center on concerns regarding the legal and regulatory environment surrounding social media.

The Virtual Job Market: for those seeking employment, social media is viewed  as a facilitator to access customized information about jobs and employment opportunities; information which otherwise job seekers would have no way of  learning about – 71% of respondents in the region state that they would rely on  social media to find their next job.

On the other hand, the study does also highlight the popular misconception that all young people are explicitly ‘digital natives’ when this in fact is not always the case. Many young people could and do require additional training before getting up to speed on social media and digital use, particularly in developing countries.

The legal and regulatory side of social media still continues to be a source of concern for many businesses. Attempting to control explicit messages about a brand and its value can be achievable but the amount and nature of implicit messages and impressions circulating in the open sewer, remains out of their control.



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