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Social networking tops UAE Internet usage

Dubai, September 22, 2011

The predominant reason for UAE residents to go online is to participate in social activities, said a survey, adding that 70 per cent of the respondents spend three hours or more online every day.

Every day 38 per cent of UAE-based respondents claim to connect with friends via email, and 41 per cent of the same demographic connect with friends through social networking sites, according to the survey conducted to investigate Internet usage in the Middle East by Bayt.com, the Middle East’s number one job site, and YouGov, a research and consulting organisation.

Watching video clips and listening to music are also popular daily online activities and a very significant proportion of daily usage comes from online job hunting, with 46 per cent of UAE respondents using the Internet to seek employment.

The least popular daily online activities, in terms of the percentage of UAE survey responses who have never accessed the facility, are downloading podcasts (43 per cent); participating in online courses (40 per cent); uploading video clips to video sharing websites (40 per cent); playing online games (37 per cent); uploading photos to a photo sharing website (30 per cent).

“There is a definite trend across the survey region that leans towards using the Internet for social purposes as well as for job hunting and career related purposes,” said Amer Zureikat, VP Sales at Bayt.com.

“This is very encouraging data and further bolsters Bayt.com’s foray into the career-centric social arena with our proprietary People platform which allows the region’s professionals to build an attractive public profile based on their completed CV and bolster that with badges and referrals,” he added.

Results asking survey-takers to state all social networks to which they belong proved that Facebook is the site of choice; of the 1049 UAE respondents, only 10 per cent claimed to not have a Facebook profile.

The balance between Twitter, LinkedIn and ‘other’ networking sites (excluding Netlog and Hi5, which had 8 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively) is relatively even – LinkedIn just tips Twitter with 28 per cent as opposed to the latter’s 27 per cent, while 25 per cent of respondents also had a profile on ‘other’ sites. Only 7 per cent claimed to have no social networking profiles at all.

Facebook usage is especially high, with 70 per cent logging onto the site on a daily basis, whereas only 21 per cent visit Twitter every day. The majority of UAE users (a combined figure of 58 per cent) will spend between 30 minutes – 3 hours a day on Facebook, with another 16 per cent claiming to be signed into their account most times of the day. Twitter, on the other hand, has 42 per cent of users who log in for less than 30 minutes a day, and 30 per cent who log in for between 30 minutes – one hour.

In the UAE, 43 per cent of survey-takers claim to use social networking websites at their place of work; the main reason for not accessing such sites while in the office are due to the employee not having time (65 per cent), rather than sites being blocked (20 per cent).
For online shopping, the results demonstrate that 12 per cent of respondents research for online deals/special offers daily, 12 per cent most days of the week, 13 per cent at least once a week, and an additional 10 per cent at least once a month, said the report.

The overwhelming majority of respondents have never purchased books, cinema tickets, items from online auctions or ‘other’ (such as clothing or electronics) online; only 27 per cent have never purchased an airline ticket through the Internet, with 21 per cent saying they will buy once every 4-6 months, and 33 per cent purchasing less often than that.

The trend across the region is for people to access political news online as opposed to business or lifestyle/leisure news; in the UAE, 54 per cent access the former, with the latter two coming up an even 48 per cent each.

In terms of the amount of time spent online every day, only 30 per cent of the UAE respondents are online for less than two hours a day. The majority, at 34 per cent, use the Internet for between 3-4 hours daily, while 20 per cent claim to surfing the web for more than six hours every day.

When it comes to online access, Google Chrome is the UAE’s browser of choice, opted for by 39 per cent of respondents; similarly, Google reigns as the search engine of choice, with 97 per cent preferring to use it over its peers. Gmail, however, is surpassed by Yahoo! for email usage, though not by far – 65 per cent use the latter, compared to 62 per cent using the former. Hotmail comes in third, with 53 per cent.

As far as chat programmes are concerned, Yahoo! Messenger is the most popular platform in the UAE, with 55 per cent of respondents using it; a close second is Skype with 51 per cent, followed by Google talk! (42 per cent) and Windows LIVE (34 per cent), according to the survey.

In general, across all surveyed regions the method of choice for connecting to the Internet is via personal computer (desktop, laptop and netbook), by a majority of 96 per cent. Personal computer ownership in the UAE is 67 per cent, with 71 per cent of respondents having fixed line broadband at home, and 79 per cent claiming to have Wi-Fi access.

Only 24 per cent of the region’s respondents use a mobile or smartphone to access web content, with 5 per cent opting to browse from their tablet computer. The most common place of access is at home (86 per cent), followed by work (46 per cent); mobile access and Internet cafes come a close third, with 21 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.

The biggest concern to do with the Internet put forward across the region is inappropriate content being easily accessible to children and youths. In the UAE, this is followed by (in order of biggest – lowest concern) Internet addiction, the Internet keeping people away from an active lifestyle, spam, social interaction becoming limited away from the Internet and lack of privacy. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: UAE | Dubai | Bayt.com | Survey | Social networking | Internet usage |

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