As the Middle East and Africa transition from that of a cash-driven economy to a digital one coupled with a young, dynamic, and rapidly growing population, the region is attracting a lot of attention.
When it comes to its online population, the Middle East and African region boast the lowest internet penetration rate, at only 61%, according to GlobalWebIndex. There is also an above-average engagement with social media, especially in Africa.
Let’s delve deeper into Africa and Middle East internet usage statistics and the key digital behaviors and trends over time and across demographics.
Number of Internet Users in the Middle East—An Overview
- The Internet World Stats recorded over 183,212 million internet users in the Middle East during Dec. 2019.
- Iran holds the highest number of internet users in the Middle East, followed by Saudi Arabi and Iraq.
- According to the ITU, 51.6% of the Middle Eastern people are using the internet in 2019.
A Figure Shows the % of Individuals using the Internet, by region and development status, 2019
- It worth to be mentioned that, GlobalWebIndex estimated that internet penetration in the Middle East and Africa is 61%.
- When it comes to The Middle East, it boasts a 77% internet penetration rate, and a significant number still goes online via PCs.
- According to Northwestern University in Qatar, internet penetration in the Middle East has increased in all the 8 countries surveyed (UAE, Qatar, KSA, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Tunisia).
- UAE and Qatar top all these countries in terms of internet penetration with rates of 100% & 99%. KSA and Lebanon ranked the same level with a rate of 93% for both of them, followed by Jordan (89%). Tunisia and Egypt lagged behind with rates 71% and 51% respectively.
A Figure Shows the Percentage on Internet Users in the Middle East—2019 Data
Related Study: Media Use in the Middle East: A Five-year Retrospection, 2018
Internet Users Demographics in the Middle East & Africa
- The highest percentage of internet users in the Middle East and Africa is among the younger generations.
- There are 38% of internet users whose ages from 16-24, besides 31% aged 25-34 years.
- As a result of that, the vast majority of internet users have a secondary or lower education degree and are non-parents.
- Males are more likely to use the internet than females.
- 20% are students, 32% are full-time workers, and 17% are self-employed.
Africa & the Middle East Internet Usage—An Overview
The top 5 interests (% who say they are interested in the following):
- Music: 53% in the Middle East and Africa Vs. 60% which is the global average.
- Technology: 53% in the Middle East and Africa Vs. 49% which is the global average.
- Travel: 46% of internet users in the Middle East and Africa Vs. for the global average of 51%.
- Films/Cinema: 45% of internet users are from the Middle East and Africa Vs. 57% for the global average.
- Food & drinks: 43% in the Middle East and Africa, and 53% which is the global average.
Regarding Social Media Usage in the Middle East & Africa;
- 94% of internet users in the Middle East & Africa are using social media.
- The average number of social media accounts is 7.6.
- WhatsApp and Facebook are the most used social media platforms.
- Consumers in MEA using Telegram Messenger monthly has grown from 11% in Q3 2018 to 20% in Q1 2019.
- Check the below chart includes details about the key reason for using social media in the MEA
A Figure Shows the Reason for Using Social Media in the Middle East and Africa by Platform 2019
A Focus on Mobile Internet Usage in the Middle East
- On a global level, the Middle East & Africa is the region where mobiles have reached the largest lead over computers 45%.
- The higher percentages go to Mobiles, On the other hand, Tablet has the least percentage.
- The following chart shows the devices they use (Mobile, PC\Laptop\Tablet) from 2017-2019.