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‘Social media makes Arab governments more accessible’

June 29, 2014 9:57 am

Social media has helped governments in the Arab World become more accessible but it isn’t heavily used for feedback, reveals a social media report released yesterday (Wednesday, June 25).

The sixth edition of the Arab Social Media report, entitled: Citizen Engagement and Public Services in the Arab World: The Potential of Social Media, has been made available online today by the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG). Published by MBRSG’s governance and innovation programme, the study is based on an analysis of social media usage patterns and a survey covering 3,654 respondents in 22 countries in the Arab World.

“Respondents had a positive perception of social media’s impact on government openness and accessibility with 50 per cent of respondents indicating that they believe that social media has made their government more accessible, while 37 per cent indicated that they did not,” the report states.

It adds that the respondents mainly use government’s social media pages to access information about public services, with only a fraction of them uses the channel to provide feedback.

Meanwhile, 55 per cent say they strongly support the government’s use of social media for the design and delivery of public services.

“We are still in the beginning of an era where technology is empowering the public and allowing for collaboration opportunities between the government and society. With approximately 82 million Facebook users and 5.8 million active Twitter users in the Arab world today, more than 22 per cent of Arabs are actively using social media platforms in innovative ways,” says Fadi Salem, director of the governance and innovation programme at the MBRSG and co-author of the report.

The report also reveals that the UAE has the highest LinkedIn penetration in the Arab world. According to the study, the number of LinkedIn users across the region surged by 79 per cent from May 2013, with the UAE registering a penetration rate of 22.4 per cent. Qatar beat the UAE in terms of Facebook penetration, with 61 per cent of its population using the social networking website, when compared with 58 per cent in the UAE. The overall usage of Facebook and Twitter across the region also grew by 49 per cent and 54 per cent, respectively.