Latest trends in social media across the Middle East highlighted in new White Paper [Infographic]

Created: Mar 02, 2020

Updated: June 19, 2024

“Social Media in the Middle East: 2019 in review” is the eighth annual study on social network use in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) written by Professor Damian Radcliffe, and the first co-written with University of Oregon PhD student HadilAbuhmaid.

Press Release

A new white paper from Damian Radcliffe and HadilAbuhmaid at the University of Oregon provides a comprehensive analysis of how the Middle East uses social media.

Infographics by go-globe  SEO Muscat

10 key findings


Arab Youth: Over 90% of young Arabs engage with social media daily, though preferences for platforms vary regionally. Approximately 52% of Arab youth now source their daily news from Facebook, surpassing other channels like online portals (41%), TV (32%), and newspapers (3%).

Facebook: Facebook remains the dominant social network in the MENA region with 190 million active monthly users. Egypt continues to be its largest market, hosting 39 million daily users and 42 million monthly users.

Twitter: Twitter usage among Arab nationals has seen a decline, now half of what it was in 2013. However, Saudi Arabia and Turkey remain significant global markets for Twitter, with 11 million users in Saudi Arabia and 8.5 million in Turkey.

Instagram: Instagram's user base in the Middle East has grown to over 65 million. Turkey maintains its position as the sixth-largest global market with 38 million users. High penetration rates are also noted in Kuwait (55%) and Bahrain (52%).

YouTube: YouTube's popularity continues, particularly among millennials in MENA, with 78% of Egyptian millennials viewing content daily.

Snapchat: Saudi Arabia ranks as the fourth largest global market for Snapchat, boasting over 16 million users. Turkey's user base has increased to 7.6 million, making it the ninth largest market.

Manipulation: In response to manipulation, Facebook has removed 265 accounts, 108 pages, 7 groups, and 20 Instagram accounts. Twitter has suspended over 4,700 accounts in the region for platform manipulation and state-backed information campaigns.

Digital Parenting: Over half of all mothers in the Middle East now use YouTube for children's content, with parents increasingly using the platform for bonding and educational purposes.

WhatsApp: WhatsApp remains the most popular Facebook-owned service in the region with a penetration rate of 77%. Meanwhile, other messaging services like Viber maintain popularity in specific areas.

Ramadan: During Ramadan, social media use spikes with users spending approximately 60 million more hours on Facebook throughout the month, a significant increase. YouTube sees a 155% rise in viewership for TV dramas and soap operas during this period.

The State of Digital Adoption in the United Arab Emirates in 2024 :

  • There were 9.46 million internet users in the United Arab Emirates at the start of 2024, when internet penetration stood at 99.0 percent.
  • The UAE was home to 10.73 million social media users in January 2024, equating to 112 percent of the total population.
  • A total of 20.96 million cellular mobile connections were active in the United Arab Emirates in early 2024, with this figure equivalent to 219.4 percent of the total population.
  • These headline stats offer a great overview of the “state of digital” in the United Arab Emirates, but in order to make sense of how digital trends and behaviors are evolving, we need to dig deeper into the data.


Damian Radcliffe said:

“This year’s report highlights the growing role played by social media in meeting the information needs lives of Arab Youth and young parents, as well as the prominent role that social networks play in the media habits of the region during Ramadan.

Social media usage continues to evolve. Twitter, for example, once the poster child for social networks in the region, has declined in usage outside of Saudi Arabia and Turkey; which are the fifth and sixth largest markets for Twitter in the world.

Meanwhile, greater scrutiny by platform owners resulted in Facebook, Twitter and Telegram each closing hundreds of accounts in 2019 due to inappropriate use by state sponsored actors and terrorist groups.”

Report co-author HadilAbuhmaid said:

“Alongside these trends, the importance of social video and visually-led social networks, continued to grow.

In the last year, Snapchat introduced new advertising formats to the region, Google highlighted the importance of YouTube in supporting parents and parenting, and in major markets such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Twitter has emerged as a leading platform for online video consumption.”

Drawing on data from a wide range of published sources including industry announcements, news reporting from around the world, as well as data from Google, Northwestern University in Qatar and the annual Arab Youth Survey, Social Media in the Middle East: 2019 in review offers a detailed 55-page analysis of the most important social media developments in the past year.

Looking ahead to latest year , Damian Radcliffe said:

“The year ahead is likely to result in a continuation of many of the trends outlined in this report, but concerns about misinformation and manipulation are only going to increase.

As a result, it will be increasingly important for social media users to develop their ability to discern bias, the differences between news and opinion, and fact versus fiction.

Government’s, civil society, education providers and social networks themselves all have a role to play in increasing media literacy among social networkers.”

The complete report is available to download, or view online, via the University of Oregon Scholars' Bank, Scribd, LinkedIn’s SlideShare, and ResearchGate.


About the Authors: Damian Radcliffe and HadilAbuhmaid


Damian Radcliffe is the Carolyn S. Chambers Professor in Journalism, and a Professor of Practice, at the University of Oregon. In this role, he undertakes a wide range of teaching, research and journalistic work, which includes writing a monthly column on technology in the Middle East for CBS Interactive’s ZDNet (which he has done since December 2013).

He has produced an annual report charting social media developments across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) since 2012. Between 2012-2014 he worked for Qatar’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ictQATAR) as an analyst and researcher. He joined the University of Oregon in 2015.

Damian is also an affiliate of the Department for Middle East and North African Studies at the University of Oregon, a Fellow of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, an Honorary Research Fellow at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture Studies, and a fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). He tweets @damianradcliffe.

HadilAbuhmaid is a Media Studies PhD student and a Graduate Employee at the University of Oregon. Her primary area of research interest explores national identity and culture in Palestinian cinema.

Hadil earned a BS in Journalism and Political Science from Bir-Zeit University in Palestine and an MA in Nonprofit Management from the University of Oregon, with a focus on Arts Administration. She is the co-founder of Filmlab: Palestine, a nonprofit company based in Ramallah, that aims at developing the cinema industry in Palestine.

Through her research, Hadil aims to examine the formation and self-representation of the national identity in Palestinian feature films produced within the historical map of Palestine by researching their production, audience, and aesthetics. Her research interests include cinema studies, diasporic studies, representations, and national identity.

For Media Enquiries

Damian Radcliffe

Carolyn S. Chambers Professor in Journalism, University of Oregon

Email: [email protected]

Tel:      (+1) 541-346-7643

Twitter: @damianradcliffe (DM’s open)

Latest trends in social media across the Middle East highlighted in new White Paper [Infographic] by Go-Globe

Social media statistics for the United Arab Emirates in 2024

  • DataReportal’s figures show that there were 10.73 million active social media user identities in the United Arab Emirates in January 2024.
  • As a result, our latest figure for social media use might appear to be quite different to the values that we published in previous years.
  • Because of this, we advise caution when comparing the social media user values published in this year’s reports with those published in previous years, especially because changes in reported values may be the result of “corrections” in the source data, as well as changes in actual user behaviour.
  • For clarity, Kepios analysis shows that social media users in the United Arab Emirates increased by 1.7 million (+19.4 percent) between early 2023 and the beginning of 2024.
  • The number of social media users in the UAE at the start of 2024 was equivalent to 112 percent* of the total population, but it’s important to stress that social media users may not represent unique individuals (see our detailed notes on data to learn why).
  • Meanwhile, data published in the ad planning tools of top social media platforms indicates that there were 10.73 million users aged 18 and above using social media in the UAE at the start of 2024, which was equivalent to 136 percent* of the total population aged 18 and above at that time.

Read more : M-Commerce Statistics And Trends Infographics [Infographic] , Mobile Vs Desktop Internet Usage – Statistics And Trends [Infographic]

Challenges and Considerations:

While the social media landscape in the Middle East offers exciting opportunities, there are also challenges that businesses and individuals need to consider:

  • Data Privacy Concerns: As social media use intensifies, so do concerns about data privacy. Users are becoming increasingly aware of how their data is collected and used by platforms. Governments across the Middle East are also implementing stricter regulations to protect user privacy, which may impact how social media platforms operate in the region.
  • Content Regulation: The issue of content regulation is another challenge. Balancing freedom of expression with cultural sensitivities is a complex task. Social media platforms need to implement clear guidelines and enforce them effectively to create a safe and inclusive online environment.

Combating Misinformation: The spread of misinformation and fake news is a growing concern on social media platforms. Developing effective strategies to combat misinformation and promote media literacy is crucial for ensuring a healthy online ecosystem.

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