The internet has changed our world. And quickly, too. Just a decade ago our world was immensely different than it is today, and much of that change can be attributed to the ascension of the Internet. Whether you consider shopping, breaking news, social media, or just day to day affairs the influence technology has had is clear. I myself am a heavy user of the internet, and it could be said that the internet and internet culture influenced my development as a person greatly. Many of my best friends in life I’ve kept in contact with through some online means, and the impact that they have had on me would have been nonexistent without the form of the internet that we have today. The accessibility to knowledge that this technology provides has given me day to day opportunities that I would have never had without it. Just the other day my girlfriend and I were looking for a Frozen Yogurt place around us. To locate one all it took was a press of a button and speaking the words “Frozen Yogurt” and seemingly effortlessly my phone provided the nearest one with directions to it, the menu, and reviews from other customers. This is a simple example of the massive way that the internet has changed our lives, and, pondering on this tonight led me to wonder what the internet usage is like in the Middle East.
What I learned is that much like the way that technology had evolved and revolutionized many of our lives five to ten years ago in the Western world is now happening inside the Middle East. Their rapid growth of technology and internet is staggering. As of now, approximately 37% of the total population in the Middle East are internet users. Though this number low, it still lies above the global average, and is quickly increasing. In 2013 alone, internet user growth raised 16.7% in the Middle East and Africa, being the highest growth rate in the world that year. Like many other things, internet usage also differs greatly from country to country within the Middle East. The United Arab Emirates lead the internet usage rate with 71% of their population recognized as users, but other citizens of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Egypt also report very highly as internet users. But, how are they connected? Similar to trends in the Western world, an increasing number of consumers in the Middle East are using mobile devices to connect online. Smartphones or tablets are very popular amongst the youth in many of these countries – much like here. In home usage is also high in many of these countries, with many in home users being women at home with their children. Social media use is also increasing quickly, sites such as Facebook and Twitter are very popular among the younger generation, and are resulting in a more connected population.
All in all, my research tonight taught me that many of the technological developments in the Middle East mimic those of the Western world starkly, and leads one to wonder if this similarity will continue. The quick rise in internet users in the past three years alone has been incredible, and I predict this decade will be a large one for technological development in these countries. Needless to say the Middle East is a major area of interest in regards to technological marketing and advancement. With their younger generation being enthusiastic about technology and the internet, it will be very interesting to see how it continues to develop in the next few years. I also wonder how the increase in Middle Eastern internet users effects the internet and the overall culture of the internet.