The leaders in the Middle East have realized that Web/Social Media are one of the potential mediums to reach their people. Some of the leading personalities in the region are Jordan's Queen Rania, Sheikh Mohammed from UAE.
Recently Egyptian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei (231,462 fans) overtook Queen Rania (207,666) on the total number of followers on Facebook as per an article in Jersusalam Post. As per the article ElBaradei is a potential future leader and challenger to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak according to the article.
Some of the other leading political personalities in the region on Facebook are: -
Some of the above leaders are active on Twitter, which is more like an Information Network than a Social Network, proving that internet is a very influential form of communication.
Time will tell how the leaders will harness the potential of these websites. The fact that Facebook has more subscribers in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries than the number of newspapers circulated in the region is further encouraging for the leaders to be present on these websites.
UAE has the highest Facebook penetration rate followed by Qatar in the Middle East as per the data released by Facebakers. Saudi Arabia has the highest number of Facebook users but the penetration rate is very low.
The users in Qatar are growing rapidly and overall in the Middle East. Users in UAE have grown by 11 % and Qatar by 8% in the last 6 months. This illustrates the Social Media boom in the region.
Iraq also has a decent penetration rate considering its conditions, and this show the willingness of people to communicate with each other.
Male population dominate Facebook in the Middle East with a total of 4.3 million users and Females amount 2.5 million, almost half of the male users.
Interestingly, Iceland has the highest Facebook penetration in the world :)
Check out the screen shot below, showing online ads from Qtel (Qatar Telecom) and Vodafone Qatar on the same page. Looks like the boys are fighting hard to grab/retain their market share. This is what you call Aggressive Online Marketing.
A graphical "Balance" Comparison of how has the life changed after Social Media/Networking has entered our lives. The graph may not cover every aspect but highlights some of the important day to day changes impacting people. People continue to communicate but through different medium. The existing tools like mobiles have found themselves for a different use.