Dubai School of Government
Fig. 1. Active Twitter users (average number for September 2011). Courtesy of the Dubai School of Government.

The Dubai School of Government released the third edition of its Arab Social Media Report, titled The Role of Social Media in Arab Women’s Empowerment, which analyzes data on users in all 22 Arab countries, in addition to Iran, Israel and Turkey. The report includes examples of Arab women's online initiatives like Women2Drive campaign in Saudi Arabia or HarassMap project in Egypt.

The Arab region has recently experienced exponential growth in the use of social media. Previous issues of the Arab Social Media Report have explored this growth, which has been fueled in part by the use of networks such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter in the movements of the so-called “Arab spring.” The third edition of the report builds on these timely themes, which specifically explored the exponential growth of social media use in the Arab world, and the role of social networking tools in the civil movements in the Arab region. Given the heightened participation of Arab women in these movements over the past months, despite their diminished use of social media as compared to the world average, this issue of the report will address three main questions:

1. Explaining the “Virtual” Gender Gap: What are the factors contributing to the low level of social media use among Arab women, as compared to men’s usage and to the global female average?
2. Trends in Social Media Usage: Do Arab women perceive social media as useful to their needs? What are the usage trends?
3. Social Media as a Tool for Women’s Empowerment: Can social media potentially increase women’s civic participation in the Arab world and contribute to their political and economic empowerment?

The mission of the whole Arab Social Media Report project is:

The Arab Social Media Report series is part of a larger research initiative focusing on social engagement through ICT for better policy in Arab states, which explores the use of social networking services in governance, social inclusion and economic development. The initiative also studies the potential of social networking applications for increasing collaboration, knowledge sharing and innovation, both between and among government entities, citizens and the private sector.

The report was produced by the Dubai School of Goverment’s Governance and Innovation Program and co-authored by May Al-Dabbagh, Fadi Salem, Racha Mourtada and Ghalia Gargani.

The full report is available here.

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