Social Media Trends 2020: How is the Middle East Using Social Media Platforms?

Middle East nations are known for their riches that lie in the ground: oil. But little do people know how these countries are also an untapped market for social media trends. While many studies and research papers highlight the social media platforms’ user base in several eastern and western countries, there is rarely any updated data on which social media trends are popular among citizens. Recent data by GSMA shows that the use of mobile social networking platforms in Arab countries has increased by 44% in the last five years.

A detailed look at how the social media trends are evolving in the gulf regions and which platforms are reigning among the youth and population of Arab countries is a sure-shot help to businesses who are working to capture the attention of the gulf citizens and advance their operations to those states. These insights will further help companies formulate actionable and measurable marketing strategies during the raging pandemic.

Facebook Trends in Middle East 2020

There are approximately 187 million active Facebook users in the MENA (the Middle East and North Africa) region, with Egypt acquiring the first position. The country has approximately 38 million active Facebook users, with an estimated 14 million female and 24 million male users daily.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait stand in the next three positions with 13 million, 8 million, and 2.7 million daily active Facebook users in the MENA region. For digital marketers, the knowledge of which country has the most active Facebook user base in MENA helps define targeting and engagement.

It also identified that English is the most preferred and used language across all social media platforms, especially Facebook.

Twitter Users Dip in Numbers

Since 2013, the number of Twitter active users has declined by 50% as compared to 2019. Yet, Saudi Arabia has the highest Twitter user base in MENA, with the number more than the users of Facebook. Around 14 million people daily use Twitter in Saudi Arabia, among which 6.7 million are females and 7.3 million are males. There has been a significant increase in Twitter users’ number in Saudi Arabia in 2020, estimated at 11 million in 2019. Turkey, on the other hand, has 8.3 active Twitter users daily.

Instagram Gaining Popularity Among Gulf Nations

While Twitter saw a dip in its active user baser among Gulf nations, Instagram is riding the high wave with an increasing number of participants. Currently, the image-sharing social networking platform has nearly 63 million users in the Gulf. In terms of active users, UAE, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia lie behind Turkey, Kuwait, and Bahrain, which all have 56%, 54%, and 50% penetration. In fact, Turkey is the sixth-largest market for Instagram, with 37 million participants.

UAE, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia all have 3.8 million, 11 million, and 12 million Instagram users.

YouTube is Popular Among Arab Millennials

Similar to how YouTube is relatively new among many of its social media counterparts, the user base of the video-sharing and the viewing platform is quite young. Among all the Arab nations, YouTube has a high impact on the millennials, with approximately 60% of viewers comprising the young audience in MENA. In Egypt, around 77% of youths watch at least one video per day on YouTube.

Snapchat and LinkedIn Have High User Base both Among Female and Male Audience

Even the use of multimedia messaging platform, Snapchat, and professional networking site, LinkedIn, is popular among the citizens of Arab.

For Snapchat, Saudi Arabi holds the fifth position globally with its user base of 15.65 million users. On the other hand, Turkey comprises 7.45 million participants capturing the tenth largest market position for Snapchat in Gulf countries.

LinkedIn is also popular among Arab youths for professional networking. Among Egypt, UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, a large LinkedIn user base has a total of nearly 10.6 million participants. Separately, Egypt amounts for around 3.7 million users, Saudi Arabia with 2.9 million, Kuwait with 530 thousand users, and UAE with 3.4 million participants.

A Brief Look at Statistics of Social Media Users in Middle East 2020

  • More than 50% of new mothers and young parents watch kids’ content on YouTube in the MENA region.
  • WhatsApp, the online messaging platform, is popular among Arab citizens, gaining the title of most used Facebook-owned service with 75% access to the Gulf regions. Alternatively, Viber is also famous among parts of the gulf region.
  • During Ramadan, social media enthusiasts spend around 2 million more hours on Facebook. On online video platforms, including YouTube, viewership sky-rockets with a 151% increase in users during Ramadan.
  • Around 50% of Arab youths receive their daily news from Facebook, followed by other online portals, TV, and newspaper.

Source: Crowd Analyzer

PR by Damian Radcliffe and HadilAbuhmaid at the University of Oregon

An Engineer by education, and a writer by profession, Ritika lives her life in stories. Her never-ending love for narratives encouraged her to turn her passion into a profession. In more than 4 years of working as a content writer, she has contributed to building content for a reputed technology magazine and a few start-ups.

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