Catching Up Online: The Middle East and North Africa Region Has Seen Strong Growth in Internet Usage in the Past Decade. Yet, Compared with More Developed Markets, the Region Still Lags Behind
Thomas, Karen, MEED Middle East Economic Digest
The past two decades have seen information and communications technology make dramatic inroads in the Middle East. However, the region has yet to match the internet penetration seen in more developed markets.
Just 3 per cent of the world's internet users are in the Middle East, but the region was among the fastest-growing markets of the past decade, second only to Africa. Internet World Statistics (IWS) reports that the number of Middle East users soared 1,825 per cent between 2000 and 2010.
Latest IWS figures show that 29.8 per cent of Middle East residents went online in the 30 days to June 2010, barely above the world average of 28.7 per cent. Although regional penetration rates outstrip those in Asia and Africa, North American penetration levels are approaching 78 per cent.
Within the Middle East, internet penetration also shows huge disparity. Bahrain tops the table with 88 per cent, followed by the UAE, approaching 76 per cent. But penetration falls to 1.8 per cent in poverty-stricken Yemen and 1.1 per cent in war-torn Iraq, which has just 325,000 internet users.
With only one in every 100 citizens accessing the internet, Iraq will be one of the fastest-growing regional markets in future. Currently, neighbouring Iran is both the largest and the fastest-growing internet market in the Middle East; user numbers have soared from barely 250,000 in 2000 to more than 33.2 million.
In the six Arabic-speaking countries of North Africa, average internet penetration is significantly lower than in the Gulf and Levant regions. In Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Sudan, internet user levels average below 20 per cent. Levels range from 5.5 per cent in Libya to 34 per cent in Tunisia.
North African …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Catching Up Online: The Middle East and North Africa Region Has Seen Strong Growth in Internet Usage in the Past Decade. Yet, Compared with More Developed Markets, the Region Still Lags Behind. Contributors: Thomas, Karen - Author. Magazine title: MEED Middle East Economic Digest. Volume: 54. Issue: 38 Publication date: September 17, 2010. Page number: 30+. © 1999 MEED Middle East Economic Digest. All Rights Reserved. COPYRIGHT 2010 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.