More men than women riding the online tide in Middle East
The suggestion that men are savvier when it comes to the web is far from the case in the West. But in the Middle East, men still dominate the use of the internet for social, cultural and economic reasons. However because of exposure to the web, this is expected to change. Communicating through social media and greater use of online shopping are also expected to attract more women to the internet, analysts said.
“One of the factors contributing to this disparity can be attributed to the higher ownership of smartphones among males versus females in the region, with these devices offering easy, anytime access to social media,” said Sagar Tamang, director of the telecom practice for the Middle East and Pakistan at Nielsen, the research company.
Tamang’s comments came after a recent study in the US indicated that women dominate in the use of social media as a communication tool. Among adults going online, 68 percent of women communicate via social media compared with 54 percent of men in the US, said the study by Harris Interactive. The study was conducted on behalf of the mobile voice over internet protocol (VoIP) provider Rebtel.
That translates into approximately 75 million women who communicate with friends using social networks versus 57 million men in the US. “Specifically, among the 93 percent of the US online adult population that communicates with family other than in person, 60 percent of women communicate with family through social media compared to just 42 percent of men,” the study said. “That equals about 67 million women communicating with family via social media versus 44 million men.”
In a press statement, Andreas Bernstrom, CEO of Rebtel, said: “Our findings show that men tend to lag behind women when it comes to communicating with others through social media, which debunks other recent studies that suggest that men are more savvy networkers between the sexes.” The high number of women using social media is directly proportional to internet penetration, researchers said. Higher penetration rates also affect the number of buyers online by the two genders.
In comparison, the relatively low internet penetration in the Arab world is a factor. “One clear difference that comes to mind is in the domain of e-commerce activities, where Western countries have a higher penetration vis-Ã -vis the Arab world,” noted Tamang in a statement to Gulf News. “The use of the internet for purchase transactions and various utilities such as restaurant, hotel, airline and entertainment reservations and ticketing — as well as shopping — is much less developed in the Arab world.”
The number of women using social media is directly proportional to internet usage, researchers said. Higher usage also affect the number of buyers online by the two genders.
Results and regional trends
While online transactions in the Middle East are often for travel and hotel reservations, such tasks are usually taken care of by males due to socio-economic and cultural factors, researchers noted.
According to a study by Nielsen, six percent of men purchase online compared with two percent for women. The study, which was conducted for Google with results posted online, added that nearly 44 percent of men use social networking compared with 27 percent of women.
The findings from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, also noted that men are more active in instant messaging at 46 percent against 30 percent for women. Internet usage is 84 percent in the UAE, 70 percent in Saudi Arabia, 51 percent in Morocco, 40 percent in Jordan and 39 percent in Egypt.
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