Facebook usage falls in GCC, including in Qatar, Saudi Arabia

Facebook lost 200,000 users from Qatar last month, a trend reflected in many other Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, according to an Inside Facebook report.

Despite a spike in growth during the first three months of 2011, the number of users in many GCC countries fell dramatically from April to May.

The report attributes potential changes in traffic in part to government censorship, as in KSA:

Saudi Arabia, which has been one of the fastest gainers to date, lost a surprising 238,000 users in total, falling to 3.86 million monthly actives. The monarchy has imposed new censorship rules in the face of unrest elsewhere, although it’s not clear how directly Facebook usage is being affected (it continues to be generally accessible, according to Herdict).

Also odd is the drop in a variety of countries bordering Saudi Arabia, including the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, which each lost more than 100,000 users despite being small to start with (equaling a decrease of more than a quarter of the existing user base for the latter country). Other countries that lost users include: Kuwait, Palestine, Bahrain and Oman.

Read the full report here.

The report comes on the heels of a statement by Du CEO Osman Sultan that GCC residents are among the world’s most savvy social media users. 

Per capita, residents in the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are some of the most frequent users of YouTube, Sultan told delegates at the 4th Arabian Business Forum this week.

The numbers are an encouraging sign that Arab countries are starting to catch up to the rest of the world, Sultan said.

Arabian Business reports:

“We missed the industrial revolution. We did not invent any technology, and the more we go, the more we see that it would be difficult to catch up with [the Western world]. But maybe with this move to the digital era there is the possibility for this part of the world to catch up.”

Read the full article here.

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