Facebook Grows Across the Middle East

Facebook only really became relevant to many people in Middle Eastern countries this past spring, when the company introduced Arabic and Hebrew versions of the site. Since then, Facebook has gained most of its 10.7 million users in the region, including nearly 700,000 in the past month. As a sign of its ongoing growth, some countries are now showing high penetration rates.

In Israel, Qatar and the United Arab Emerites, more than 20% of the total population is on the site — putting these countries in the top quartile of the nearly 100 countries that Facebook reports country data on. In Lebanon and Bahrain, it’s more than 15 percent. And, in terms of hard numbers, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan all have more than one million monthly active Facebook users, with the UAE and Morocco getting close. While the region is, overall, not adding as many users as other parts of the world, four countries had growth rates of more than 10% last month: Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.

In all, Israel continues to be the country with the most users and the highest penetration. But given the growth rates in other countries — especially Saudi Arabia — this could change in a matter of months.

There’s also a big caveat here: Turkey. It would be in the lead if we were to count it as part of the Middle East. The country gained 1.07 million new users last month to reach 14.5 million people — 20.5% of the population.

And, with the mention of Turkey’s dual-region classification, we should also clarify our own methodology for putting together these numbers. We are looking at what the G8 defines as the “greater Middle East,” which includes North Africa and the Asian land mass as far as Pakistan. Scores of countries in this area do not show up in Facebook’s data, including Iran, so we’re not able to show them here.

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