Tweets about Eid and football help push Arab Twitter user base to 14m

Ben Flanagan

Published: Updated:

Twitter says its user base in the Arab world is among the fastest-growing in the world, with almost 14 million active users in the region.

Shailesh Rao, Vice President of International Operations for Twitter, said today a “diversity” of tweets on topics like Eid and soccer was driving usage of the microblogging service in the Middle East and North Africa.

“Six percent of our active user base is here in this region, it’s also one of the fastest-growing regions for us in terms of active usage,” Rao told journalists on the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit.

“What characterizes usage in this region is just terrific adoption, across Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE… It’s one of our strongest regions,” he added.

Twitter is currently preparing for an IPO, and today disclosed that it has obtained a $1 billion credit line ahead of the offering. Rao declined to comment on the proposed share listing.

The company said this month it has 230 million active monthly users, meaning it has 13.8 million users in the Arab world.

The company has a regional affiliation with Connect Ads, which acts as Twitter’s sales representative in Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Rao said the company’s policy is to have its own staff working in key global markets, but stopped short of saying a Twitter office is to open in the Arab world.

“It’s our inclination to put people in all our key markets around the world,” he said. “Over 70 percent of our active users are outside the U.S., and that has increased over time.”

Academics confirmed that Twitter use is on the rise in the Middle East.

“Twitter is leading in the region in Saudi Arabia, with a 40 percent increase in adoption between 2012 and 2013,” said Ilhem Allagui of the American University of Sharjah, who also spoke at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit.

In Saudi Arabia, there were 3 million Twitter users in 2012, with an expected 40% rise this year, according to data compiled by the Emirates Internet Project, which is run from the American University of Sharjah.

There are 210 million social network users in the Middle East and North Africa, compared with 181 million in North America, Allagui said.

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