How Responsive Are Governments On Social Media In The Arab World


Under the title ‘Citizen Engagement and Public Services in the Arab World: The Potential of Social Media’, the 6th edition of the Arab Social Media Report series was launched by the Governance and Innovation Program at the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government.

The report shows that the public sector in a majority of Arab countries continues to suffer from mounting deficiencies in terms of quality, efficiency and accessibility of government service despite the continued growth of social media in the Arab region and its increasing potential for governments to engage citizen on enhancing public services.

In addition to analyzing patterns, demographic breakdowns and usage trends of key social media platforms across the Arab world, the report studies the influence of social media on reforming and reshaping the delivery of government services, based on a regional survey conducted among several thousand participants across the Arab world.

The report revealed that Arabs have positive attitudes towards getting engaged by government through social media for public service design and delivery. As part of the findings of the survey, 55% of the respondents said they strongly support the government’s use of social media for the design and delivery of public services. Respondents also agreed that social media facilitates better accessibility to government entities and public sector officials.

However, according to the report findings, social media is still used in the Arab region as a one-way information source for the majority of those who utilize it to interact with government. Only 2% of the respondents reported visiting official social media pages or using their personal social media accounts for sourcing information on public services. Of the 63% who do utilize government social media pages, 74% only use it to access information on government services and entities, while giving feedback, sending complaints or new ideas to government ranked lower.

Additionally, the report findings suggests that increased connectivity, coupled with the low levels of quality and accessibility of public services in the region prompted many civil society structures to utilize social media tools to fill gaps in service delivery.

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 10.19.25 PMGrowth of social media usage in the Arab world has been consistently strong, with the number of users in 2014 increasing by a whopping 49% on Facebook, 54% on Twitter and 79% on LinkedIn since May 2013. Analyzing demographics, the report reveals that the UAE has the highest rate among Arab countries in terms of LinkedIn penetration at 22.4%, while Qatar climbed to first place in Facebook penetration with 61% of its population using Facebook, followed closely by the UAE with 58%. On Twitter, Saudi Arabia has 40% of all Arab active users, however, Kuwait enjoys the highest penetration rate with 11.4% of its population active on the microblogging platform.

The full report can be downloaded via the following link.


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