Social media in Saudi Arabia: More is less, less is more?

We’ve discussed the Arab Spring here and speculated as to when more of the same might happen in the Middle East. Here is an analysis of social media adoption and attitudes by Charlie Pownall that provides some more clues.

Charlie Pownall 查理·保诺

One of the more interesting take-aways from my trip to the Middle East last week is the extraordinary enthusiasm for social media amongst Saudi Arabians.

Consider the following:

  • The Kingdom accounts for the highest penetration of Twitter in the world (see chart below)
  • Virtually half (47%) of the total tweets produced in the Arab world are produced in or by Saudis, despite the Kingdom’s relatively small population of 29m, according to the 5th Arabic Social Media Report (pdf)
  • Saudi Arabia boasts the highest number of YouTube views (90m per day) in the world per Internet user (source: Google).

To westerners, Saudis’ enthusiasm for social media may seem obvious: where else would they go for the facts when the mainstream media is little more than government propaganda? (This is also an argument regularly trotted out to explain the enthusiasm for all things social amongst Chinese, Malays, Singaporeans, Vietnamese and others living under…

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