Dubai: More than one in every 10 Facebook users are now in the Middle East and Africa, an executive of the social media giant told the Arab Media Forum here on Tuesday.

Of the 1.44 billion Facebook users, about 190 million -- or about 13 per cent -- are in the Middle East and Africa, said Jumana Antara, Manager of Corporate Communications of Facebook for Middle East, Europe, Russia and Africa.

Of the 190 million users in the region, 167 million follow their Facebook interactions on mobile phones, she added.

This reflects a global trend, in which over 80 per cent of 1.44 billion FB users -- about 1.1 billion -- follow their friends using mobile phones.

Four-fold rise

Antara said online users have grown nearly four-fold over a 10-year period, from 780 million in January 2004 to 3 billion by January 2014 -- of which 1.4 billion are on FB.

Speaking on the first day of the Arab Media Forum (AMF) workshop, titled, "Facebook: The New Communication Era", a two-day event being held in Dubai, Antara gave startling figures of online presence.

The social media channels, she said, serve to complement the traditional media today, but she stressed on the selective use of materials.

“We don’t need more content,” she quoted one of the content Strategist, Sara Wachter-Boettcher, “We need content that does more. If I don’t have business with any news feed, I don’t interact with it,” she told the forum attendees gathered at Madinat Jumeirah.

More than 2,000 delegates are attending the AMF from different parts of the world. A third of the speakers this year are foreign experts. In keeping with the ‘2015 Year of Innovation’ in the UAE, AMF 2015 features two key new concepts – The Media Walk which features a brief history of media; and Davos-style 20-minute sessions sponsored by Nakheel.

Additionally, AMF 2015 also features workshops sponsored by DP World. Jumana shared some pictures depicting how fast the online presence is spreading.


Two contrasting photos were taken at the same venue during the consecration of two Popes in the Vatican. The first picture was taken in 2005 when Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) was consecrated. No mobile phones were used to cover the event. Whereas in 2013, when Pope Francis assumed the Papacy, the same room glittered with iPads and mobile phones.

“It is here where the notion of Citizen Journalism is practically witnessed. It is no longer the affair of international news agencies to transmit news to consumers,” said Antara.

"We need to focus," she said, "more on the quality of the content shared on FB, because it has been a way of presenting the public opinion”.

Another photo showed a family gathered before television set “perhaps watching the ceremonies of a national day” something she said is now “getting relegated fast to history.”

She said 2.4 million Facebook users share pictures every minute.

“We at Facebook serve to make the world more open and connected. We want people to stay connected with their friends, family and discuss what goes on in the world as well as share and express what matters to them.”