Facebook Inks Advertising Deal Aimed at Its 15 Million Middle East Users

Facebook has been expanding its local operations around the world in an effort to reach and monetize more of its users — out of its 400 million monthly actives, around 70 percent are located outside the United States. As part of this effort, it has signed a deal with Cairo, Egypt-based Connect Ads in a deal announced yesterday, the Associated Press reports.

The ad company provides regionally relevant advertising for a variety of partners, including Microsoft’s local portal sites, and tailors ad material to be fit the conservative cultures in many Middle East countries. Because many of these countries regularly block web sites, Facebook is trying to be especially cautious with ads.

Trevor Johnson, Facebook’s head of strategy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, tells the AP that Connect Ads has the reach and connections to help it expand in the fast-growing market. The initial deal will last three years.

The Middle East, broadly defined to stretch from Morocco to Pakistan, has grown quickly over the past year, as we’ve been covering. Today, the 15 countries we track in the region total nearly 15 million monthly active users, with more than 1 million of those joining in January. Although some countries, like Israel and Egypt, have been big on Facebook for years, growth in others, like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates have only seen big surges starting in 2009.

We expect the trend to continue. Here’s the top 5 fastest growing countries, excerpted from our Global Monitor report. Note that Turkey, which is part of both Europe and the Middle East (and counted with the former in our stats), has nearly 19 million MAU, of which 1.6 million joined in the last month.