The New Media Academy publishes its first comprehensive social media report for the Middle East in 2020

A guidebook for individuals and institutions to enhance their digital content on social media platforms

Rashid Al Awadhi

Rashid Al Awadhi

  • Over 200 sources of information were curated for this report
  • 79% of Arab Youth consider social media a primary news source, with a 25% increase from 2015
  • 65% increase for influencers’ fanbase between February and August 2020
  • 5 hours a day is the average time spent on Social Media by users in the Middle East
  • UAE users have over 10 accounts on social media platforms
  • Egypt is the 9th largest market for Facebook in the world with 44 million users
  • Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt are among the 13 largest markets for Snapchat worldwide
  • Google, WhatsApp and YouTube are in the top 10 brands list in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE
  • Rashid Al-Awadi: A rapid rise in the quantity, quality and diversity of digital content in the Middle East, with individuals and institutions turning more and more towards digital platforms during the pandemic
  • Rashid Al-Awadi: The New Media Academy is in a good place to contribute to enabling a new generation of innovative content creators

 Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 14, 2021: The New Media Academy publishes its first comprehensive report on the use of social media in the region, including the most prominent highlights of social media in 2020, and the most influential on the Arab and global scene.

Titled "How the Middle East Used Social Media in 2020", the report presents the most important trends that dominated social media platforms during the year 2020, and reflects the dramatic increase in usage of these platform in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions.

A Destination for News:

The report highlighted the dependence of 79% of Arab youth on various social media platforms as a primary source for their daily news. It also indicated the significant rise in fanbase for some of the top-rated influencers on "TikTok" with a 65% increase between February and August 2020.


Companies use of instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp and virtual meeting applications such as Zoom and Teams, grew noticeably after remote working options became widely normalised due to the spread of Covid-19 and social distancing measures.


Tech companies, social media platforms and instant messaging apps still ranked among the top companies in terms of value. Google, WhatsApp and YouTube ranked in the top 10 by audience in each of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.


The report also showed that the UAE recorded the highest number of social media users regionally, with an average of 10 accounts per person on various social media platforms; whereas Egypt ranked first in the region and ninth in the world in Facebook users with more than 44 million accounts in October 2020. Snapchat reached nearly 67 million users monthly in the region, with an annual increase of 38% by October 2020. On the same platform, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt were among the 13 most significant markets with a growing number of users of the app.

Digital Economy

Statistics showed that the contribution of the digital economy does not exceed 4% of the Arab national income combined compared to 22% for the global average, despite the fact that digital economy today has become a significant part of any country's macroeconomic resources, and enhancing it has become a necessity. The report cited a number of reasons for this decline, most notably the poor digital content available in Arabic which amounts to no more than 5% amidst global expectations that over 50% of job opportunities will emerge from digital economy by the year 2022.


The volume of influencer marketing spending (marketing through media influencers), has doubled to more than $ 14 billion in the past two years globally; but remained the same in the Arab region, but with few exceptions similar to the partnership agreements between New Media Academy and a number of far-reaching influencers and content creators.

Objectives (Goals)

This report is the bedrock of the Social Media industry. New Media Academy aims to make accessible real-time findings to institutions and individuals alike, to help them grow their presence in the digital space and tell the best version of the story they wish to tell, supported with the most accurate and up to date data to build effective communication strategies that can be applied across government and private sectors.

The changes that happened over the past year due to the pandemic, accelerated industries’ move towards digitizing their practices on a large scale. Furthermore, the impact of social media emerged as a game changer in strengthening partnerships and cementing communication ties. The shifts of 2020 made it clear that a well-developed digital economy can spur on economic growth by offering an alternative yet seamless experience with advanced infrastructure, substantial access to innovative digital solutions that ensure continuity in business, education, medical treatment and social life.

Advanced Programs

Commenting on the recent changes in the world of digital media, Rashid Al-Awadhi, CEO of New Media Academy, stressed that the adoption of digital and virtual solutions has been accelerated over the past few months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath. The changing patterns of work, learning and communication have reflected a significant increase in the consumption of digital content, social media, instant messaging and virtual meeting apps. Al-Awadi said, "We have witnessed a rapid rise in the quantity, quality and diversity of digital content in the Middle East and the world over the past period due to individuals and institutions turning towards digital and virtual platforms in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Launched in 2020, New Media Academy has a leverage on a regional level, to contribute with its digital and virtual training programs to preparing a new generation of skilled and innovative content creators capable of offering distinct digital content that attracts audience in the Arab region, and provides a source of income while connecting them with worldwide experts in the field.”

Mr. Al-Awadi went on to add, "We hope that the Social Media Report 2020, issued by the New Media Academy will enable decision-makers and thought leaders in government and private sectors as well as content creators in the region to benefit from the reliable outputs to design relevant strategies that advance their current and future content on social media platforms in the best and most effective manner possible.”


The report relied on more than 200 sources and references, and followed extensive research conducted by a group of efficient and dedicated analysts and researchers in the fields of public policy, arts and journalism. The research team was led by Professor Damian Radcliffe, an experienced digital analyst, consultant, journalist and an avid media researcher with an extensive interest in Middle East and North African Studies; and Hadil Abuhmaid a dedicated researcher in media studies and national identity, passionate about cinema and arts and holder of BS in Journalism and Political Science from Bir Zeit University in Palestine, and currently working on her PhD thesis at the University of Oregon in the United States of America.


The New Media Academy focuses on developing the best practices to empower the new generation of innovative content creators, guided in its approach by the UAE vision in advancing knowledge-based economy, building a sustainable future based on innovation and creativity and empowering young Arab talents and curate a generation of promising innovators able to adapt in a rapidly changing digital world.

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