Understanding the Arab Digital Generation [Report]

by wamda, October 10, 2012

A recent report by Booz & Company and Google, Understanding the Arab Digital Generation, reveals interesting facts about how the newest generation uses the internet.

Born between 1977 and 1997, this generation represents 40 percent of the MENA population. 

The number of internet users is clearly on the rise- the report estimates digitally active Arab Internet users ages 15 to 35 to number around 10 million – nearly 4 percent of the currently estimated 260 million digitally active users worldwide. By 2014, Booz & Company expects this number to rise to 13 million, an 11 percent increase.

The report, which surveyed more than 3,000 digital users in nine different countries, showcases the impact of technology on society, and trends to come.

Youth unemployment in the MENA region in 2011 was 27 percent for those ages 15 to 24 – the highest in the world for this age group, and more than double the global average.

Also, they're tech savvy, hungry for Arabic, and are entrepreneurship-focused:

  • 83 percent use the Internet daily
  • 40 percent use the Internet for at least five hours a day
  • 78 percent prefer the Internet to TV
  • 37 percent are not satisfied with the availability of Arabic websites
  • 43 percent of ADG members would like to start their own business. 

Download the full report on this page to your right. Here's a summary of the major trends to watch out for: 

The YouTube Opportunity

  • Across all regions, more than 40 percent of users watch short videos online for entertainment at least once a day, and often more frequently. With 167 million playbacks per day, MENA countries—Saudi Arabia in particular—stand as the highest users of YouTube as a percentage of the total Internet population.

It's all Going Mobile

  • Among younger Europeans, 52 percent say they feel disconnected from the world if they don’t have their mobile phones with them, and 91 percent of mobile phone users keep their phones less than a meter away, waking or sleeping.

Youth Love Internet Freedom

  • On average, 42 percent make their own decisions, even if others disagree. More than half said that they should be free to choose their own career or education path based on their personal interests, rather than on the influence of others.
     
  • “Technology helps you make choices,” one man from the UAE said in a focus group. “There’s nothing that’s forced on you. You can say no, I want this and I don’t want that. Everything is in front of you.” 

Online Dating: Now Approved

  • More than 60 percent in North Africa and the Levant approve of a male member of their family marrying a woman whom he had met online, with the GCC approval rate 44 percent. 
     
  • Surprisingly, there were high rates of approval for a woman finding her prospective husband online, even if the rates were lower than those for men – 55 percent in North Africa and the Levant approved this, along with 41 percent in the GCC.

e-Governance Needed

  • 24 percent believe that media content is totally controlled by government
  • 8 percent use an online platform to connect with government or political leaders
  • 31 percent cited lack of trust in leaders and fear of being targeted as the main reasons for not communicating with political leaders

Online Spending Attitudes: Still Cautious

  • 42 percent do not buy products online because they prefer to deal with a person; 38 percent worry about website security.

The Need for Better Education

  • 54 percent have higher education levels; this proportion is higher for  women (60 percent) than men (49 percent)
  • 40 percent believe that schools insufficiently prepare students for the job market
  • 16 percent access the Internet from schools or academic institutions

Trends in Healthcare Technology

  • 48 percent believe that the region’s healthcare services require technological upgrades; 43 percent believe this of education services
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