Digital Digest



Digital Digest
Digital Digest
30 recent Internet and Technology developments you may have missed
from – and/or potentially impacting on - Qatar and the Middle East
Issue 7: Q1 2013
Contact us: [email protected]
Twitter: @ictqatar
Contents Issue 6:
Q1 2013
Recent developments in the MENA region
Internet easily most used daily media by Arabic Youth
Top Twitter Influentials in MENA
The Most active Twitter users are in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Turkey
Using technology to tackle traffic issues in the Middle East
Forbes unveils Top Media Online in the Arab World
In Brief: Content
In Brief: Social Media
In Brief: Technology
Spotlight: Social Media in Saudi Arabia
Wider Internet & Society Research
Smartphones Leading to Declining Laptop and Desktop Use
Teens and Technology 2013 (USA)
How mobile – and mobile data – changed in 2012 (Cisco)
Internet Governance – IXPs in emerging markets
Coming Up – three emerging issues
Social Impact - Trends from the 2013 Consumer Electronic Show
Technology – Cisco’s mobile predictions for 2017
Internet Governance – the privacy challenge of Google Glasses
Recent developments in the MENA region
- Internet easily most used daily media by Arabic Youth
- Top Twitter Influentials in MENA
- MENA home to the world’s most active Twitter users
- Using technology to tackle traffic issues
- Forbes’ list of Top Media Online in the Arab World
Internet most used daily media by Arab Youth
We’ve mentioned previously (see Digital Digest Sept/Oct 2012) research by Google and
Booz & Co. into the Arab Digital Generation.
But two new graphics produced by eMarketer from this data caught our eye.
- The first shows just how popular the Internet is with Arab Youth.
83% of these Internet users
reported using the Internet daily.
Once online, many of them use it for
a long time, with 70% of daily
Internet users spending more
than 3 hours online.
This is more than 3 times the
number who claim to watch the
same amount of TV, the next most
popular daily media channel.
The second chart, perhaps reflecting high smartphone penetration in the Gulf,
shows that Arabic Youth in the GCC are accessing the web almost as much on
the move as they are at home, or anywhere else.
In contrast home usage and Internet cafes are much more popular places to go
online in North Africa, where smartphone penetration is typically lower and PC
access a more common means to going online.
Top Twitter Influentials in MENA
The Top 100 Arabs website stemmed from an article published on Wamda about the top
100 influential people in social media in the Arab world (mentioned in Digital Digest 3).
Khaled Al Ahmad and Alaa Batayneh have now created an interactive site which uses
Twitter, Facebook, and Klout to create a website which allows users to search lists
of Top Twitter Influentials in MENA by country, gender or profession.
The most active Twitter users worldwide are in
Saudi Arabia, Turkey and UAE
A survey of 152,000 Internet users in 31
markets by GlobalWebIndex found that
Saudi Arabia has the highest active
Twitter user rate in the world.
The survey defined “active Twitter users”
as those who used the service in the past
month. Between Q3 2012 - Q4 2012 the
number of global active Twitter users
increased by 39.8% (see below).
Read more at and
The role of tech in solving local traffic issues
Wasselni is a startup specializing in developing mobile and web
applications for traffic and transport problems in the region.
The startup is operating from the Business and Technology
Incubator (BTI) in Giza, Egypt. Users can find other people
near them so they can carpool and reduce congestion.
The service will launch initially in Cairo and Amman.
In February the first-ever Cairo Transport App Challenge (Cairo
TApp) awarded first prize to a mobile app that helps drivers with
road assistance and car maintenance.
The team behind Beliaa won US$3,000 at an awards ceremony held at
Smart City, a technology hub on the outskirts of Cairo. (40,000 people
work in Smart City, 99% of jobs are held by Egyptians.)
The app – which is available on Android and Blackberry platforms uses GPS location data to help drivers locate road assistance centers
and sending car maintenance requests to authorized workshops.
The competition was sponsored by the World Bank and
hosted by The Ministry of Communications and
Information Technology (MCIT) and the Information
Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA).
Other finalists included a GPS-enabled transportation guide
called "ArkaBeh" which is used for journey planning and
to report harassment directly to the relevant authorities.
Read more about the
competition and the ideas
behind it:
“This would be an especially
useful feature for women, for
whom the risk of harassment is
the greatest deterrent to using
public transportation, which limits
their mobility and makes
economic opportunities that much
harder to reach.”
Writing on the World Bank blog
Hartwig Schafer, Country Director
for Egypt, Yemen & Djibouti noted
Local tech website reported that Google had launched live Traffic Updates
via their maps service.
The move follows the launch of similar services in September 2012 for Jeddah and
Kuwait City and in December 2012 for the UAE.
To use the service
and click the traffic
layer on the top right
hand side of the map.
Read more:
Top traditional media online in the Arab World
At the end of 2012 Forbes published its third annual list of the region’s biggest
online media channels. The report was based on user date from August 2011 August 2012.
The Top Newspapers Online In the Arab World
Page visits
1. Al Youm Al-Sab'ea (Egypt)
842.84 million visits
2. Al Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)
3. Echourouk el Youmi (Algeria) 79.17m
Newspaper websites
Unique Visitors
1. Al-Youm Al-Sabe'a (Egypt) 145.11 million unique visitors
2. Al Riyadh (KSA)
3. Al Ahram (Egypt)
Worth noting:
Oman's Al Rroya, which ranked last on the overall list of top newspapers
online, nonetheless enjoyed the highest %age of new visits at 67.11%.
The National from the UAE ranked 15th overall but second for new visits, with
newcomers accounting for 60.76% of its total traffic.
Top TV News Channels Online in the Arab World
1. Al Arabiya (UAE) - 306.63m online visitors, 69.05m uniques, and 21.48% new visits.
2. Al Jazeera (Qatar) - 277.89m visits, 55.71m uniques.
3. Rusiya Al-Yaum (Russian based, broadcasts in Arabic) - 50.11m visitors, 26.40m uniques.
According to Google Analytics data, the Rusiya Al-Yaum (Russia Today) website is gaining
momentum with a new visit rate of 51.37%, the highest of the three TV channels.
Al Jazeera users spend the highest
average time on a TV channel
website—10 minutes and four
They also have the highest average
number of pages per visit, 3.49.
Read More:
Images:, and
In Brief:
Content News
The Next Web reports that YouTube has expanded its Partner Program to Egypt,
Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The move allows users to generate revenue from their
uploaded videos.
“Anyone with an account in these regions can become a partner by navigating to
their YouTube settings – located under the drop-down menu from the top-right
corner of the screen – and clicking on the blue monetization window.”
Vodafone Qatar and Weill Cornell
Medical College (Qatar) have
launched a mobile app to promote
exercise and healthy eating.
As well as providing a calorie counter,
the app also uses a traffic light system
to indicate how healthy or unhealthy
different dietary choices are.
A burger and fries, for example,
displays a red light. (Bad!)
The app is available in English and
Arabic. More at:
Qtel has launched an mHealth service for diabetics
in Kuwait, Iraq and Palestine. Subscribers can
receive personalized alerts and information on
exercise and diet.
Read More:
In Brief: Social Media News
Law 3andak Dam (If You Have Blood) is an Egyptian based online service that
matches blood donors with patients in need of blood. It uses social networks like
Twitter and Facebook to share emergency medical conditions.
Users can sign up with their location and blood type.
But as Ahmed Gabr noted in a piece for Wamda:
“Law 3andak Dam doesn’t offer any guarantees about their users; if
they're reliable or even have the right information entered.”
He later added:
“Without this concrete data and success stories to point to,
the platform may have trouble expanding in the region, though this is
certainly a much-needed service for users across the Arab world.
And with a service as serious as this, it may be a good idea
to find a way to verify each new user.”
Read more:
Twitter has launched a new partnership with the
Egypt-based company Connect Ads, to allow
MENA companies to advertise via a range of
'Promoted Products'.
Initially available to businesses in Egypt, Saudi Arabia,
Kuwait and the UAE, marketers can utilize Twitter’s
Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts, and Promoted
Trends products.
Twitter is developing partnerships with operators across the globe, including the
MENA region, to put its service on feature phones, according to Bloomberg:
In the past year alone, the number of Twitter users in the Arab world tripled,
according to Shailesh Rao, Twitter’s vice president for international operations:
In Brief:
Technology News
Dubai launches virtual mall
•, (meaning “traditional safe” or “vault”)
features more than 40 retailers and
brands such as Sharaf DG, Grand
Optics and Reebok.
Shoppers can purchase from stores
offering Computers & Electronics,
Fashion, Furniture, Home & Garden,
and Health & Beauty products.
Retailers can have their store up and
running in 2-4 weeks.
The National reported online shopping
in the UAE was valued at US$281.6
million last year by Euromonitor,
compared with $47.8bn in the United
Kingdom and $11.1bn in Brazil.
"The complete e-commerce infrastructure,
payment gateway, customer services, IT hosting
and website development are already taken care
of by Tejuri,” said Ayaz Maqbool, managing
director of “hence, makes it extremely
easy and economical for the retailers to go online.”
Read more:
Jordanian capital in global list of top 10 cities to launch a tech startup
• Rachid Sefrioui, the founder of Finaventures, a California-based venture-capital firm,
has published a list of “Top 10 cities to launch a tech startup” - Amman was 10th
on the list. The only city from the MENA region. (Dubai was one of the five runners up.)
Rankings are based on the “vibrancy of each city's entrepreneurial community, no
matter how small. Using relative terms, a city with $200M in seed and venture capital
may achieve a better ranking than a city with more capital simply because other
human, legal and infrastructure factors scored higher.”
Software Piracy still a problem in MENA
• Microsoft recently praised Qatar, reported Doha News, saying its efforts to eliminate
piracy “are quite remarkable” despite a 50% rate of pirated software.
This figure is lower than the Middle East average of 58%.
Piracy is highest at 86% and 89% in Iraq and Yemen, and 51% in Saudi Arabia.
- In UAE the rate is 37%.
Read more:
Social Media in Saudi Arabia
An infograph released by The Social Clinic, an agency based in Jeddah, Saudi
Arabia, revealed how quickly the country is taking up social media.
Here’s our Top 10 stats:
Facebook use in Saudi Arabia is 90% Arabic, 8% English and 2% the other languages.
2m of KSA’s 6m million Facebook users access via mobile only.
Facebook is the 3rd most visited website
Twitter is growing faster in Saudi Arabia than any other country. While the global average is 300%
growth year-on-year, Saudi Arabia grew more than 3,000% from 2011 to 2012.
50,000,000 tweets per month come from the country.
30% of the global tweets tweeted in Arabic come from KSA.
Twitter’s website is the 6th most visited website in Saudi Arabia.
More than 90,000,000 videos are watched daily on YouTube on Saudi Arabian soil.
KSA has over 840,000 active LinkedIn users, against 5.9 million MENA users.
10. KSA is second, after UAE, in LinkedIn users.
Wider research related to ICT and Society
Smartphones Leading to Declining Laptop and Desktop Use
Teens and Technology 2013 (USA)
New Cisco data on mobile data
Improving and creating IXPs in emerging markets
Social Impact
- Smartphones Leading to Declining Laptop and Desktop Use
New international data from the UK
communications regulator Ofcom
suggests that time spent online on
a laptop or desktop computer has
peaked in many countries.
The report authors mention two
factors that are affecting the
consumption habits of Internet
1. The proliferation of Internet-connected devices, and in particular the rapid
adoption of smartphones, which are substituting time spent on laptop and
desktop computers.
2. The take-up of the Internet among older consumers, who typically tend to
spend less time online.
Read More:
As an example of how much smartphones have changed users’ data from
the UK was used to create this infographic, which reveals the extent to
which smartphones have transformed UK consumer behaviors.
Youth Research
- Teens and Technology 2013 (USA)
New data from Pew Research Center’s Internet and
American Life Project and the Berkman Center for
Internet & Society at Harvard has found that
smartphone adoption among American teens has
increased substantially and that one in four teens
are “cell-mostly” Internet users.
Key findings from a survey of 802 youth ages 12-17 and their
parents include:
78% of teens have a cell phone, 47% a smartphone.
That means 37% of all teens have smartphones, up from
just 23% in 2011.
23% of teens have a tablet computer.
(Which is comparable to the general adult population).
95% of teens use the Internet.
93% of teens have a computer or access to one at home.
71% of teens with home computer access say the laptop or
desktop they use most often is shared with family members.
“In many ways, teens represent
the leading edge of mobile
connectivity, and the patterns
of their technology use often
signal future changes in the
adult population.”
Mary Madden,
Senior Researcher, Pew
Research Center’s Internet
Project and report co-author.
Read more:
Emerging Technology
- Cisco report on how mobile + mobile data, changed in 2012
Key findings included:
Global mobile data traffic grew 70 % in 2012.
Last year's mobile data traffic was nearly 12x the size of the entire global Internet in 2000.
Globally, mobile network connection speeds more than doubled in 2012.
In 2012 4G connections generated 19 times more traffic on average than a non-4G connection.
(Although 4G connections represent only 0.9% of mobile connections, they already account for 14% of mobile data traffic.)
Average smartphone usage grew 81% to 342 MB per month, up from 189 MB p/m in 2011.
Smartphones represented only 18% of total global handsets in use in 2012, but represented
92% of total global handset traffic.
33% of total mobile data traffic was offloaded onto the fixed network through Wi-Fi or femtocell.
Examples of Mobile Data Traffic Growth in 2012
Mobile Traffic Growth Examples
As reported by Korean regulator KCC, mobile data traffic on 2G, 3G, and 4G
networks increased approximately 80% between January and November of 2012.
China Mobile's mobile data traffic grew 77% from mid-2011 to mid-2012.
China Unicom's mobile data traffic grew 112% from mid-2011 to mid-2012.
As measured by Japanese regulator MIC, mobile data traffic grew 113% from
September 2011 to September 2012.
As reported by Australian regulator ACMA, mobile data traffic grew 40% from mid2011 to mid-2012.
As reported by Italian regulator AGCOM, mobile traffic in Italy in 3Q12 was up 32%
Telefonica's total year-over-year mobile traffic growth was 35% in 1Q12, down from
75% in 1Q11.
Vodafone's year-over-year mobile traffic growth was 34% in FY2012, down from
69% in FY2011.
Read More:
Internet Governance
- gives $1.3m to the Internet Society (ISOC) to
improve and create Internet Exchange Points (IXP) in
emerging markets.
ISOC explains that:
“The primary role of an Internet Exchange
Point (IXP) is to keep local Internet traffic
within local infrastructure and to the reduce
costs associated with traffic exchange
between Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
In many developing countries, poor connectivity
between ISPs often results in the routing of local
traffic over expensive international links simply
to reach destinations within the country of origin.
IXPs can also improve the quality of Internet
services in a country by reducing the delays.
IXPs also can be a convenient hub for hosting
critical infrastructure within countries.”
Read More:,
Benefits of IXPs
A 2012 study by the Internet Society and
Analysys Mason looking at the role of IXPs
in Kenya and Nigeria argued that:
IXPs enabled these countries to save
millions in telecommunications costs,
They provide a means to raise
additional revenues
Whilst also speeding up the exchange
of local data and
They can encourage the development
of locally hosted content and services.
Emerging Issues
- Potential trends from the 2013 Consumer Electronic Show
- Cisco’s mobile predictions for 2017
- The privacy challenge of Google Glass
Social Impact
- Potential trends from 2013’s Consumer Electronic Show
The annual Consumer Electronics Show
(CES) in Las Vegas can offer insights
into emerging technologies and changes
in use of ICT.
This huge event is often a source of
product launches and prototypes.
The emerging trend of 2013 was IP
Alongside TV’s there are moves to
connect all devices to the web.
This includes kitchen devices like fridges
(long promised) and cutlery (not so long
promised). Some ideas are just plain
potty. Literally.
Ideas which caught our eye:
Prototype of Samsung ‘bendy’
phone running Windows Phone 8
Plastic Logic PaperTab - a
flexible 10.7” tablet / e-reader.
A few more ideas which caught our eye
(some practical, some not so practical!)
Spare One Phone
- $49 via
Uses a single AA battery offers power for up to 15
years and 10 hours talk time.
Designed for emergency use for people who don’t
need a phone the rest of the time, or who need a
direct link to the emergency services e.g. hikers or
Read More:
The “iPotty” which features a slot for an
iPad above the bowl.
- vibrates if
you eat too
forcing you to
chew your
food and eat
more slowly.
– Cisco’s mobile predictions for 2017
Alongside reviewing the state of
mobile data in 2012 (see Section 2.2)
Cisco also reported on how the sector
will change in the next five years.
Chart: Global Mobile Data
Traffic Forecast by Region
Of the 10 trends they discussed,
three stand out:
1. Traffic growth will be driven
by the continued take up of
2. Mobile video will be the
single source of most mobile
traffic growth.
Cisco predicts that the Asia Pacific and North
America regions will account for almost two-thirds
of global mobile traffic by 2017.
3. 4G connections will dominate
traffic. (By 2017, Cisco predicts that 4G
But the Middle East and Africa is the region
which will grow the fastest, with mobile data
usage increasing 17.3-fold (a CAGR of 77%) over
the forecast period.
will represent 10 % of connections, but 45
% of total traffic.)
Smartphones Lead Traffic Growth
Mobile Video Will Generate Over 66 %
of Mobile Data Traffic by 2017
4G will be 10 % of
Connections and 45
% of Traffic in 2017
Internet Governance
– the privacy challenge of Google Glasses
The announcement of Google Glass was met with quite a lot of excitement by the
Digerati last year (including our Digital Digest Volume 2).
But now that the product is starting to be tested (I’ve seen tweets from people
reporting seeing users wearing them on the New York subway and in restaurants)
some commentators are asking questions about some of the privacy issues which
Google Glass may present.
Joshua Fruhlinger - in a piece entitled
“The dark side of Google Glass” says:
“I'm not so sure that Google Glass is
going to be good for us as a society.”
Fruhlinger suggest five issues to consider including:
“…People will capture everything and we'll see it all. Some will be amazing,
most of it will be unbearable and even hard to watch, if not completely boring.”
The risk of theft/muggings.
“Glass enthusiasts sitting next to one another yet choosing to communicate via
their HUDs. [Ed: Heads up displays] Run. Run away.”
“…we'll see a rash of accidents caused by
people paying attention to their Glass,
making adjustments or trying to execute
a command while they should be paying
attention to other cars, pedestrians,
poles and children….”
Thank you for reading. •
Visit our SlideShare channel for previous •
Issues and our monthly Tech Top 10: • •
Contact us: [email protected]
Twitter: @ictqatar
Disclaimer: all content in these slides is in the public domain and referenced so that you can read the original sources.
Any omissions, errors or mistakes are mine, and mine alone.

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