04/12/2012IDG Connect – Dan Swinhoe (Middle East) The Gulf's Web Habits & Why We Need More Arabic …1/3www.idgconnect.com/preview_document_new
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Dan Swinhoe (MiddleEast) The Gulf's Web Habits & Why We Need More Arabic Content
The Middle East is one of the most connected regions in the world.Internet World Statsput total internet enetration at just over 40%, or 90 million people. In terms of percentages, that's more than Africa and Asia, and only just behind South America. Obviously the numbers vary greatly from country to country; figures go as high as86% in Qatar and as low as 7% in Iraq. But how do all these people engage with the web?
Access to the web by desktop or laptop is the most popular choice; 98% compared to 24% by phone. Home is themost popular place for netizens to access the web, followed by work; while mobile data is slightly favoured over internet cafes. According to figures fromBayt , people are busy online. Over 70% of people connect with friends &family by email or social network regularly (once a week or more), while 70% watch video and 60% listen to music (40% download music). Job hunting is particularly popular, even though most people in the survey were working full-time. Online shopping is yet to take off to the same level, as only 32% of MENA internet users buy online - half the figure of theUK . Booking holidays through the web is dominated by the UAE; online travel bookings in theEmirates represented $4.7bn in 2011 (60% of the ME) and are expected to double to $9.4bn by 2014.Social Just like the rest of the world,social networking sites have become the defacto homepage for many. A study by Omnicomfound 40% of people in Saudi Arabia and 50% in UAE would find Facebook the hardest thing to livewithout; more than instant messaging, voice services such as Skype and other social networks (all of these figuresranged from around 20-35%, still very high), and there's no reason to assume these figures vary much acrossother countries in the Gulf. Though in theUK more people would rather go without a toilet than Facebook, they'd also rather have painkillers than vegetables and rate mobile phones above clean clothes, so might not have their riorities right.There's a definite link between social and commerce;50%of MENA Twitter users have made a purchase as aresult of something they've seen on the site. But in spite of this, almost 50%of companies in the region feel social media is not being used effectively by their company (and nine out of ten would have a go if given the chance).News and politics are a major part of the Middle East's internet use.Twitter , though proportionately still one of thesmaller social networking sites, is still an important part of the online fabric - a study by Portland found almost 80%
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