The survey by Dubai School of Government (DSG) and SAP also finds that 86% of respondents believe social media empowers entrepreneurs. DSG’s research has, in recent years, shown that over 50 million Arabs are actively connected through social media and primarily use the platforms to change social and business realities in their countries, according Fadi Salem, Director of its Governance and Innovation Program.
“Despite having few stable economies in the region today, the most active part of the Arab population, its youth, are increasingly feeling empowered,” he says.
The study examined the effectiveness of social media in promoting social advancement, job creation and business growth across the Arab region. Data was collated from close to 5,000 respondents in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Lebanon, Oman, Egypt and Jordan.
While 84% of respondents believed social media could inspire an entrepreneurial spirit within a company, 90% agreed that the potential for boosting branding and marketing – and 85% saw the improved ability to tape into wider markets.
“Social media is no longer a curiosity but undeniable business imperative,” said Sam Alkharrat, Managing Director, SAP MENA.
“It is crucial that business-leaders adapt accordingly. Constructive dialogue across workplaces, markets and among individuals – combined with the unprecedented ability to gather, analyse and act on data in real-time – is an immensely powerful and influential opportunity to unlock previously unthinkable levels of innovation.”
The study also found that 81% of respondents agreed that national social media policies would facilitate a better use of social media in the workplace.
Social media sparks Mena youth employment
The study also found that social media can have a dramatic impact on job hunting and entrepreneurship in the Mena region. Focusing on Arab youth, the survey found that 70% of respondents believed social media can help youth find jobs – and 75% viewed it as an essential channel to the virtual job market.
Social media was also found to have a notable positive effect within the workplace – 85% of those surveyed claimed it paved the way for more customer satisfaction. Similarly, 86% said it stoked inter-agency collaboration and 85% of respondents described it as a powerful conduit for innovation, while 78% also praised social media’s ability to generate more trust among the workforce.
“This ground-breaking research offers insight into new horizons for economic empowerment of the Arab youth. It is essential for policy makers and businesses to understand this emerging phenomenon and its impact on their societies and markets,” said Salem.