Snapchat’s Saudi popularity is ‘extension of social fabric’: Executive

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Snapchat’s popularity in Saudi Arabia is an “extension of the social fabric” of the country, a top executive from the company told Al Arabiya English.

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The social media app is unique in allowing users to share messages, photos, and videos that disappear after being viewed, with no ‘likes’ or comment sections.

It is one of the most popular apps in the Kingdom, with more than 22 million monthly active users, according to Europe, Middle East, and Africa President Ronan Harris.

This is the equivalent of 68 percent of the population of the Kingdom using the app at least once a month.

Part of the platform’s popularity can be explained by the way it appeals to Saudi culture, according to Harris, which places high importance on family values and privacy.

“You want to create a place where your most personal and important conversations happen with the relationships you care about most, you don’t want to feel like that there’s somebody looking over your shoulder or that there’s even a threat of it,” Harris explained.

Asked about the massive popularity of the app in Saudi Arabia, Harris said: “I think it’s cultural, and I think community and family have always been very fundamental values for culture in Saudi Arabia, and Snapchat is a place where people come to and at builds and enhance the relationships that matter most to them.”

“And so you can see it is an extension of the social fabric of the society and the place where people come to explore those relationships.”

The huge proportion of Saudis using Snapchat is made up of adults as well as younger people -- Harris said that around 60 percent of the app’s users are 25 or older.

One challenge for the privacy-focused company is third party apps that allow people to bypass some of the security features – including notifying users if someone has taken a screenshot or saved their messages.

“It’s a constant game of cat and mouse,” Harris said, “from a policy perspective, it’s not something that we allow, and we will block and tackle that any time we come across it or find it.”

To capitalize on their popularity in the region, Snapchat plans to open a creator’s studio in Riyadh this year, offering training in content creation and monetization.

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