Mideast Growth on Facebook Fell Back to Normal in May 2010

[Editor’s Note: The following stats are excerpted from Inside Facebook Gold, our membership service tracking Facebook’s business and growth around the world. Click here to learn more about our complete data and analysis offering.]

Growth rates for the Middle East region fell back toward their normal rates in May, following a particularly strong April, according to our latest Global Monitor report.

Egypt once again held a significant lead over its peers, taking in 216,180 new monthly active users for May. That’s equivalent to a 6.7 percent growth rate for the country, which now has about 3.4 million users on Facebook. In April, Egypt was by far the strongest grower with 13.9 percent growth; however, that rate was probably not sustainable.

Coming in after Egypt is Israel, which remained about even from month to month. But May was a particularly notable month for Israel, since it managed to cross 40 percent overall penetration, a significant milestone. If Israel continues growing strongly through this year, it could pass Qatar, which leads the region with 45.1 percent penetration.

Saudi Arabia has not been known for its large Facebook population, but we’ve already seen it grow quite a bit this year, with 137,980 new MAU in May, bringing it close to 10 percent penetration. Young Saudis are most likely to sign up for the social network, a point noted by the United Kingdom when its embassy recently launched a Facebook page to provide information to Saudi students and tourists.

Foreign embassies aren’t the limit on Facebook, of course — in the United Arab Emirates, the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has been using his personal Facebook page to communicate with the public. The UAE shows its own high penetration rate of 37 percent, reliably growing month to month.

Iraq, unfortunately, is extremely volatile; in April it showed a huge loss, only to apparently recover in May. Given the country’s continuing internal difficulties, it may be some time before Facebook can find a reliable foothold. Lebanon and Jordan, the last two countries listed, are quite small, but both are now close to a million MAU.

Overall, the countries shown above had a composite growth rate or 13.5 percent in May, adding 796,000 new MAU to Facebook. As always, this data is sourced from Facebook’s advertising tool, which may run at least several weeks behind.

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