People in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) spend more time using the Internet, reading and watching media outlets than they do sleeping, according to figures released on Monday by Ipsos Jordan, a market research and studies company.
MENA residents spend about nine hours a day consuming media (using the Internet, watching TV, listening to the radio, etc.), while they sleep, on average, 6.9 hours a day, according to Mohammed Minawi, general manager of Ipsos Jordan.
Speaking at the opening of the mediaME Forum, which gathered more than 300 experts in digital media from several regional countries, Minawi noted that smartphone penetration in the MENA region stands at about 50 per cent, with 81 per cent of smartphone owners using these devices in bed.
About 50 per cent of smartphone owners in the region use them while in the bathroom, he added.
The two-day forum seeks to facilitate the development of the digital media market in the Levant and encourage networking between players in the field.
In his speech, Minawi said the rising number of Internet users in the MENA countries, especially the use of social media platforms such as Facebook, provides an opportunity for businesses to reach out to a large audience.
There are about 70 million Internet users in the MENA region,  which is equivalent to the population of France, he noted. Of the total number of Internet users in the MENA, about 72 per cent use social media.
According to official figures by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, Internet penetration in Jordan reached 55.9 per cent at the end of June.
Citing studies by Ipsos, Minawi said 56 per cent of computer owners use them to connect to the Internet, while only 50 per cent of smartphone owners use them for the same purpose.
“The Internet is the most trusted source of information for young people,” he said.
During the forum, participants discussed the latest smartphone usage trends, the potential for mobile advertising, Arabic content development and other related issues.
In his address at the opening, Zeid Nasser, founder of mediaME forum, said the event provides an opportunity for participants to explore potential areas for cooperation.
Nasser said spending on advertisements in digital media is still low compared to spending on traditional media in the region, making it a market with great potential.