Social networking users outnumber professional networking users in Arab world

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Social Networking. Image: [email protected] used under Creative Commons license


  •  21.4 million Facebook users compared to 2.7 million LinkedIn users in Arabian Gulf and Egypt
  •  UAE, KSA and Egypt serve as vanguards of personal and professional social networking use across the Arab world
  •  Egypt leads the way with 11.4 million Facebook users, followed by 5.3 million in KSA and 3.1 million in UAE

A significantly higher number of people in the Arabian Gulf region and Egypt are using popular social networking website Facebook compared to its professional and business-oriented counterpart LinkedIn, according to a recent regional study conducted by Galal & Karawi Management Consulting (G&K) in collaboration with Orient Planet PR and Marketing Communications, the Middle East representative of Eurocom Worldwide. The study showed a total of 2.7 million LinkedIn users and 21.4 million Facebook users in the surveyed countries of Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.

The study compared social networking websites that share personal news, photos and information such as Facebook, with professional networking websites such as LinkedIn that mainly serve as an interactive platform for professionals. The study showed the UAE as a vanguard in the use of LinkedIn across the Arab world with over one million users followed by Saudi Arabia with 680,000 users and Egypt with 596,000 users. The UAE ranked 22nd globally in the number of LinkedIn users, Saudi Arabia ranked 32nd, while Egypt came in 38th.

In contrast, the survey for the top Arab countries with the most Facebook users showed Egypt at the top and 19th worldwide with 11.4 million users. Saudi Arabia came in second in the Arab world and 31st worldwide with 5.3 million users, followed by the UAE, which was third place in the Arab world and 48th worldwide with 3.1 million users.

“The study shows a ratio of 1:8 in the number of LinkedIn users compared to the number of Facebook users in the surveyed Arab countries. The global ratio is 1:5,” said Asem Galal, Managing Partner, Galal & Karawi Management Consulting. “This is mainly attributed to a surge in social networking use in the Arab world, particularly in light of recent events such as the Arab Spring wherein Facebook and Twitter were extensively used as a platform for communication, as was the case in Egypt. On the other hand, our study indicates that the number of professional networking users across countries that are politically stable and secure such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia was much higher. In fact, users of LinkedIn across the UAE have exceeded 20 per cent of the population, while the average number of users among the top 50 global countries, according to, is 7.5 per cent of the population. These figures reaffirm the UAE’s leading position as a key business and investment hub in the Middle East.”

Nidal Abou Zaki, Managing Director, Orient Planet PR & Marketing Communications, said: “This study focusing on the status of social and professional networking in the Gulf region and Egypt once again underlines the important role of new media in cultivating a knowledge-based economy and society. Though Facebook has outstripped LinkedIn by the number of users in the region, we believe that professional networking will continue to spread across all segments of the society in the coming years, particularly in the Arabian Gulf which has maintained its status as an attractive destination for businesses and investment. Moreover, the business community has already started to look at professional networking websites not only as an ideal interactive platform for discussions and exchange of information, it has become a more effective, easier and faster way to recruit experienced professionals and fresh graduates who can simply present their qualifications and experience to recruiting companies and hiring managers within the same network.”

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