Latest Facebook Statistics in the #MENA (Q1 2011)

arab social media report logo

arab social media report logo

We have been talking a lot lately about the second release of the Arab Social Media Report developed by the Dubai School of Government and even though they had some information and numbers released on the site now the entire report is  available for download. Below we are going to highlight some of the main points and graphs revealed in the report from Facebook and we will follow up with another post focusing only on Twitter in order to keep it brief and not overload our readers with numbers and percentages. (Notes written in italics are my opinions and thoughts and not included in the report).

The opening pages of the report discuss the effect on the growth rates of the social networks as a result of the protests that happened in the region. And it interesting to note two of the main figures here are:

The primary Language used to communicate on facebook during the civil movement in Egypt and Tunisia was:

primary language on facebook during protests

I find this to be a very interesting indicator of how different users in the MENA region are and how they go about using Facebook and quite possibly other social media platforms. You can see that during the protests in Egypt the majority of users where on the Arabic interface compared to a more balanced breakdown in Tunisia, between Arabic and french. However in both cases the English interface was always a distant second or third, this may have a lot to do with the fact that people who used the Arabic interface where getting introduced to a new medium where they can express their thoughts freely, not sure though just speculation at this time.

The growth rate of Facebook users during the 2011 protests, as compared to the same time period  in 2010 was:

Growth Rate of Facebook Users During the 2011 Protests

All countries that had some sort of civil unrest this year had seen double digit positive growth except Libya. The protests in these countries really served as an advertising campaign for Facebook this surge in growth numbers I think will stabilize in the future given that things go back to normal once again.

Facebook statistics Q1 2011 update:

Here is a quick overview:

  1. The total number of Facebook users in the Arab world stands at 27,711,503 (as of April 5, 2011), up from 21,377,282 (January 5, 2011), having almost doubled since the same time last year (14,791,972 in April 2010).
  2. At the beginning of April 2011, the country average for Facebook user penetration in the Arab region was
    just over 7.5%, up from just under 6% at the end of 2010.
  3. The number of Facebook users in the Arab world increased by 30% in the first quarter of 2011.
  4. GCC countries still dominate the top five Arab Facebook users as percentage of population, with Lebanon being the only exception. The UAE remains at the top of the Arab region.
  5. Egypt still constitutes about a quarter of total Facebook users in the Arab region, and has added more users in the Q1-2011 than any Arab country, at close to 2 million new Facebook users between January 5 and April 5.
  6. Youth (between the ages of 15 and 29) make up around 70% of Facebook users in the Arab region, indicating a slight increase in the number of users over 30 years old since the end of 2010.

1. Facebook user penetration in the Arab region, plus Iran, Israel and Turkey (Apr. 2011):

facebook penetration in the MENA region

The penetration rates are calculated by dividing the number of facebook users in that country over the entire population. Countries highlighted in green are considered to be top performers these can be compared with the top 20 countries in the world on facebook (percentage wise and not in terms of actual user numbers), while countries highlighted in yellow are emerging countries and finally countries in red are considered as developing users.

2. New Facebook users in the Arab region and globally (Jan. 5 -Apr. 5, 2011), as percentage of population:

new facebook users in the Arab world

For Q1 the Arab countries had impressive growth through out with the UAE leading the pack.

3. New Facebook users in the Arab region (Jan. 5 -Apr. 5, 2011), in terms of numbers:

new facebook users in the Arab world in terms of numbers

The graph above puts things in perspective countries with high penetration rates don’t necessarily mean high numbers on facebook. Interesting to note however that from the top 10 countries only Jordan and the UAE have a population under 10 million, that could be due to the higher awareness of the people towards social networks and/or because of strong ICT initiatives in those countries.

4. Facebook penetration rates in the GCC:

facebook penetration rates in GCC

The UAE is a clear leader in terms of penetration in the Arab world with Qatar and Bahrain following.  Even though Saudi Arabia has a lower penetration rate compared to other GCC states, the reality is the number of users from Saudi Arabia is actually higher than all the other GCC states combined.

6. Gender breakdown of Facebook users in the Arab World:

facebook gender breakdown in the MENA

The gender breakdown of Facebook users shows a slight increase in the percentage of female users, rising from 32% at the end of 2010 to 33.5% in the first quarter of 2011. This is still significantly lower than the global trend, where women constitute 61% of Facebook users.

7. Demographic Breakdown of Facebook Users in the Arab Region (April 2011):

facebook demographics in the MENA

The UAE shows the most balance between youth and adults on Facebook, followed closely by Qatar and Kuwait. This chart Excludes Syria and Sudan due to US technology sanctions, no data on demographic breakdown of Facebook users is available.

8. Language Interface Preference for Facebook Users in the Arab World:

facebook language preferance in the MENA

The GCC countries (with the exception of Saudi Arabia) primarily prefer to use English on Facebook, most likely because of their large English-speaking expatriate population. North African countries (with the exception of Egypt) prefer to use French.

These are the major points in the report about Facebook statistics in the Arab world, the sources, sample sizes and dates the report used are all cited in the full report.

You can view more information on Twitter usage in the region. In the meantime do let us know what you think of the numbers from the report and feel free to add your own opinion as to why these differences exist between the countries in the Arab World.

Let us know your comments


Having worked with top digital agencies and companies in the MENA region for the past number of years I'm now looking now to venture on my own with small side projects in online, SaaS products. Things I like include: gaming, sports, technology, social media, start ups, funny things and reading about new bright ideas.


  1. Hi Miloo, you're probably right, the report does mention that they couldn't get correct stats for Iran and Syria due to political reasons and information not available.

  2. This is flawed. Iran has way more users. In fact it has to be put on top of the list positioned 1st, maybe second after Egypt. In Iran people are using VPN's to sign up and connect to Facebook, so the number of users in Iran using Facebook show false reports since their VPN's are based abroad.

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