28 June 2014 Dubai, UAE ~ Under the title Citizen Engagement and Public Services in the Arab World: The Potential of Social Media, the sixth edition of the Arab Social Media Report series has recently been published by the Governance and Innovation Program at the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government.
Findings also state that the growth of social media usage in the Arab world has been consistently strong, with the number of users in 2014 increasing by 49% on Facebook, 54% on Twitter and 79% on LinkedIn since May 2013. Analyzing demographics, the report reveals that the UAE has the highest rate among Arab countries in terms of LinkedIn penetration at 22.4%, while Qatar climbed to first place in Facebook penetration with 61% of its population using Facebook, followed closely by the UAE with 58%. Jordan, Lebanon and Bahrain are the other five top user countries.” On Twitter, Saudi Arabia has 40% of all Arab active users, however, Kuwait enjoys the highest penetration rate with 11.4% of its population active on the microblogging platform.
The report stated that Lebanon is in the top five most active Arab countries across social media networks and achieves the highest rate of female social network users in the region. It also found that women in Lebanon are more active on Facebook than those in any other country in the region, with female users of Facebook in Lebanon 45 percent of total users.
On Twitter, Lebanon ranks sixth in the region, based on the number of residents using the site in the country. Shortcomings with respect to the number of subscribers to the network is compensated by the sheer amount of tweets Lebanon produces, ranking fifth highest in tweets in the Arab world. Once again the amount of female Twitter users is the highest in the region.
Racha Mourtada, Research Associate with the Governance and Innovation Program and co-author of the report, said: “Our research shows that social media in the Arab world is dominated by young men under 30, with only 1 in 3 social media users in the region being a woman. Given this young tech-savvy population many governments in the Arab world have come to realize the importance of proactively engaging citizens in finding innovative ways of delivering public services that are inclusive, citizen-centric, responsive and cost-effective. Respondents in our survey agreed that engagement through social media for service delivery presented benefits such as increased service accessibility, improved quality of services, inclusiveness and reduced costs. They also indicated a need to increase government responsiveness to citizens’ feedback on social media platforms, in order to encourage citizen trust in and utilization of these channels.”