The total number of social media users in Oman has grown by over 600,000 since January 2017, according to new research from social media management platform Hootsuite.
Data also shows that Oman had 2.60 million social media users as of January 2018, covering a total of 55 per cent of the Sultanate’s population.
Additionally, the study put the Sultanate’s total of Instagram users during the same period at one million, of which 68 per cent are male and 32 per cent female.
Commenting on the growing use of social media, Omani influencer Muhammad Al Hinai told the Times of Oman, “Social media has grown rapidly in Oman because people want to keep up with what is going on at any given moment. Earlier, people used WhatsApp to get most of their information but now Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are a lot more popular. You can even find an old man using Twitter nowadays, because he wants to keep up with what is happening.
“I, for example, have good connections throughout the Gulf. That is why I am able to work with people from all over Oman and the GCC region."
“Recently, there was an accident in Saudi Arabia and they reached out to me through social media. I was able to act as a go-between for the family, the authorities and the hospital. I am also working to promote cultural and humanitarian causes, help orphans, and those that have been affected from Cyclone Mekunu.”
“That is why using these platforms is also a great responsibility. People should be aware of their country’s laws and follow them,” he added. Explaining the reasons behind the rapid growth of social media platforms, Anuya Phule, Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist at Hatat Polyclinic, said, “From the psychological perspective, we know that it gives people a high. Studies have shown that there are pleasure chemicals in the brain such as dopamine, and whenever we use social media it causes a chemical spike in the brain’s neurotransmitters.”
“We know that dopamine causes addiction, it is related to pleasure and can be triggered through social media interactions. Similarly, the love hormone, oxytocin, is also known to cause a spike in the brain when people connect to their friends on social media.”
“The positive side is that through social media we aim to entertain, inspire, and meet new people. For example, some might use it to share new styles and selfies of themselves. That can inspire people. It also provides others with a way to gain admiration, appreciation, and a source of reassurance that boosts their self-esteem. It allows them to get approval from others and lets them feel that they are successful and increases their self-confidence.”
She added, “Another reason is that it gives people a safe way to connect with others. It allows them to avoid face-to-face communication. Nowadays, people prefer to avoid the possibility of others not liking them. Social media offers them an easy way to avoid that, to avoid worrying about their tone, their appearance, and feeling hurt.”
“It is also hypnotic, the reason being that it takes people away from their worries and anxieties. However, this can be negative as in the end, when they do confront their issues, they can end up increasing their depression and anxieties.”
“There is also something I call ‘I, Me, and Myself’. What I mean by that is, people love to talk about themselves. Even during therapies, it is all about the client. Social media offers them an outlet to share themselves with others, the likes and comments they receive also act to fuel that behaviour.”
However it's not only Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter that are enjoying a rapid increase in users from Oman. A new white paper study by researchers at the University of Oregon in the USA revealed that Oman had a total of 675,000 Snapchat users in 2017, making it the third largest market for the platform in the GCC. The study was authored by Damian Radcliffe, a Journalism Professor at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, and PR expert Amanda Lam. The findings show that with regards to social media growth in the region, Oman is far from alone.
Oman’s total Snapchat user-base came third behind Saudi Arabia, with a whopping 13,425,000, and the UAE, with 1,950,000. Instagram’s figures are equally impressive, with a total of 63 million people using the social network in the MENA region.
Additionally, YouTube is viewed daily by 50 per cent of Arab youths, and the report shows that the region’s most popular YouTube videos in 2017 were ‘Top Comedy Sketch Compilations’ by Saudi vlogger Mohammad Al Moshaya and ‘iPad Generation’ by Swar Shuaib. Meanwhile, Saudi female band ‘Khamsa Adwaa’ had the year’s most watched music video on YouTube in the Arab world, with their song ‘Hush’ garnering more than 140 million views according to Google MENA.
According to global statistics portal Statista, social networking sites are continuing to play a major role in countries around the world.
The UAE had the highest social media penetration rate at 99 per cent of the population, followed by South Korea at 84 per cent. WhatsApp, remained overall,the most popular mobile messenger app worldwide with over 1.3 billion monthly active users. As of January 2018, the mobile social media penetration in Asian countries was high due to mobile-first connectivity in these markets.
© Muscat Media Group