UAE users have over 10 social media accounts, survey reveals

Dubai - 79 per cent of the Arab youth consider social media a primary news source, which is a 25 per cent increase from 2015.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Sun 14 Mar 2021, 3:15 PM

Last updated: Mon 15 Mar 2021, 7:15 AM

Users in the UAE have more than 10 accounts on social media platforms, according to a new study, involving 200 participants.

It stated that 79 per cent of the Arab youth consider social media a primary news source, which is a 25 per cent increase from 2015.

On an average, users in the Middle East spend 3.5 hours a day on social media platforms, according to the ‘How the Middle East Used Social Media in 2020’ report published by the New Media Academy on Sunday.

The academy has published its first comprehensive report on the use of social media in the region, including the most prominent highlights of social media in 2020, and the most influential on the Arab and global scene.

The report relied on more than 200 sources and references, and followed extensive research conducted by a group of efficient and dedicated analysts and researchers in public policy, arts and journalism. “We have witnessed a rapid rise in the quantity, quality and diversity of digital content in the Middle East and the world over the past period due to individuals and institutions turning towards digital and virtual platforms in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Rashid AlAwadhi, CEO of the New Media Academy.

The report presents the most important trends that dominated social media platforms in 2020 and reflects the dramatic increase in usage of these platform in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic and its repercussions. Al Awadhi explained, “We hope that the Social Media Report 2020 will enable decision-makers and thought leaders in government and private sectors as well as content creators in the region to benefit from the reliable outputs to design relevant strategies.”

The report stated 79 per cent of Arab youth use social media platforms as a primary source for their daily news. It also indicated the significant rise in fanbase for some of the top-rated influencers on TikTok with a 65 per cent increase between February and August 2020. Companies use of instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp and virtual meeting applications such as Zoom and Teams have grown noticeably after remote working options became widely normalised due to social distancing measures.

Tech companies, social media platforms and instant messaging apps still ranked among the top companies in terms of value. Google, WhatsApp and YouTube ranked in the top 10 by audience in each of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The report also showed that the UAE recorded the highest number of social media users regionally, with an average of 10 accounts per person on various social media platforms, whereas Egypt ranked first in the region and ninth in the world in Facebook users with more than 44 million accounts in October 2020.

Snapchat reached nearly 67 million users monthly in the region, with an annual increase of 38 per cent by October 2020. On the same platform, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt were among the 13 most significant markets with a growing number of users of the app.

Statistics showed that the contribution of the digital economy does not exceed four per cent of the Arab national income combined compared to 22 per cent for the global average. This is despite the fact that digital economy today has become a significant part of any country’s macroeconomic resources and enhancing it has become a necessity.

The report cited a number of reasons for this decline, most notably the poor digital content available in Arabic which amounts to no more than five per cent amidst global expectations that over 50 per cent of job opportunities will emerge from digital economy by the year 2022.

The volume of influencer marketing spending has doubled to more than $14 billion in the past two years globally; but remained the same in the Arab region, but with few exceptions similar to the partnership agreements between New Media Academy and a number of far-reaching influencers and content creators.

In a nutshell

200 Sources of information were curated for this report

79% of Arab Youth consider social media a primary news source, with a 25 per cent increase from 2015

65% — Increase for influencers’ fanbase between February and August 2020

3.5 hours a day — Average time spent on Social Media by users in the Middle East

UAE users have over 10 accounts on social media platforms

Google, WhatsApp and YouTube — Top platforms according to users’ preference

Who conducted the study?

The research team was led by Professor Damian Radcliffe, an experienced digital analyst, consultant, journalist and an avid media researcher with an extensive interest in Middle East and North African Studies; and Hadil Abuhmaid a dedicated researcher in media studies and national identity, passionate about cinema and arts and holder of BS in Journalism and Political Science from Bir Zeit University in Palestine, and currently working on her PhD thesis at the University of Oregon in the United States of America.

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