The increasing use of social media across a number of Arab countries has meant government services are now able to engage citizens in relation to the enhancement of public services, Zawya reports. The sixth ‘Citizen Engagement and Public Services in the Arab World: The Potential of Social Media’ report by the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government analyzed data and trends related to the different social media platforms used in the Arab world and their ability to change the nature of government services.
From these results the report found that 55% of the respondents were open to the notion of being engaged by government services via social media and support the use of the medium for reshaping public services.
Nevertheless, the report also found that only 2% of respondents used their personal social media accounts to research information regarding public services. However, of the 63% of respondents who did use the government’s social media pages, 74% of them only used it to source facts related to services. Feedback and complaints on government services were less regularly reported via social media.
Fadi Salem, the director of the Governance and Innovation Program at the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government, noted that in the Arab region alone there are 5.8 million active Twitter users and 82 million Facebook users – this has accounted for an increase in users in 2014 of 54% and 49% respectively, as well as indicating that more than 22% of the Arab population are online and active on social media. Qatar and the UAE scored highest in terms of Facebook penetration, with 61% and 58% of their populations using the sites respectively.
As quoted by Racha Mourtada, a research associate, only 33% of the social media users in the Arab world are women, and the vast majority are in fact men under the age of 30. With these statistics in mind, it is paramount that the government takes advantage of this tech-savvy generation and engages with them on such sites.