Arab Internet use up by nine million

The number of Internet users in the Arab world increased by over nine million in 2005, to reach 26.3 million, according to new figures from Dubai analysts Madar Research.

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By  Melissa Hancock Published  September 24, 2006

The number of Internet users in the Arab world increased by over nine million in 2005, to reach 26.3 million, according to new figures from Dubai analysts Madar Research. Growth rate of Internet use has substantially risen over 2004 levels, to average at around 55%, with a few countries - where Internet penetration is lowest - witnessing three-digit growth. The figures, released last week, reveal a pan-Arab penetration rate of 8.50% in 2005, compared to 5.36% in 2004. Though growth in the number of Internet users in the Arab world is much higher than the world average – estimated at around 18% at the end of 2005 – Arab Internet user penetration is still well below the world average of around 14%. Government initiatives, mostly supported by IT companies and private organizations, to increase the PC installed base at educational institutions and homes have largely contributed to growth in Internet use in many Arab countries. The UAE remained the Arab leader in terms of Internet user penetration rate in 2005, followed by Bahrain and Qatar. However, Abdul Kader Kamli, president and research director of the Dubai Media City-based Madar Research, suggested that the region suffered from wild variations in Internet penetration from country to country. “There remains a huge gap between Arab countries in terms of Internet penetration,” he said. “While Internet use has become so widespread in GCC member states, where users are dropping dial-up access in favour of broadband connections, Internet use in some Arab countries is still reminiscent of the early years of the advent of public Internet in the Arab world.” Kamli warned of a serious inter-Arab digital divide, which he said is widening year after year. He urged the governments of non-GCC Arab countries, especially Sudan, Yemen and Algeria, to make major efforts and increase Internet use among their population. “I don’t want to sound ominous, but it doesn’t sound good when we consider that there is only one Internet user among every 15 people in the 12 non-GCC countries included in our studies,” said Kamli. The Madar Research Internet user survey covers a total of 18 countries – excluding Somalia, Mauritania, Djibouti and Comoros. The full study highlights the number of Internet users broken down by country, penetration and growth rates, along with comparisons and analyses including drivers and inhibitors of growth. The study is part of wider research that also covers fixed lines, Internet users and computer installed base in the Arab world in 2005. Earlier in the year, Madar Research Group signed up to be a key player in the development of Safawi, the first Internet search engine designed to offer full Arabic-language search capabilities. Safawi (Arabic for ‘sandstorm’) will be launched later this year under a new name. The Safawi project was set up as a joint venture between leading European search technology provider Seekport and Saudi Arabia-based MITSCO Group. Fahad Al Sudairy, chairman of MITSCO observed: “The availability of a comprehensive and reliable Arab search engine will generate more traffic driven by users eager for Arabic content to existing websites.” With Arabic web pages only representing 0.2% of overall web pages (100 million pages compared to more than 12 billion worldwide), it is clear that Safawi will have an invaluable role in increasing the relatively small Arabic language content on the Internet. In addition to the Safawi engine, there will be a range of services similar to those found on global search engines, such as news-gathering, as well as a number of unique services. Kamli believes the lack of an Arabic Internet search engine so far has been one of the main inhibitors of growth in Internet usage. With approximately 65% of Arab users not comfortable with the English language and only 35% that speak it, many native Arab speakers refrain from using the internet because they are not confident using English. With Arabic speakers worldwide representing 5% of the world's population but only 2% of its Internet users, there is huge potential for growth in the coming years. Madar Research projects Internet penetration growth of around 40% to 45% in Arab countries in the next couple of years before it starts to stabilize at moderate levels, according to the report.

3323 days ago
waleed Mohamed

also find the below information about the internet usage between Egypt and African countries and some important compression

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