Most internet users in Saudi Arabia, the most populous country in the Gulf, use the micro-blogging website Twitter, according to a global study carried out by GlobalWebIndex.
Of the kingdom's total internet users, about 51 percent are active on Twitter, followed by Turkey in second place with 39 percent and by the UAE in third place at 34 percent.
Argentina followed in fourth place with 31 percent of its users tweeting, trailed by Spain (30), South Africa (25), UK (21), Russia (21), Italy (18), Netherlands (15), Sweden (10), France (9), Poland (7) and Germany (6).
The number of active Twitter users globally increased by about 40 percent between the third quarter of last year and the last three months of 2012 to 288m, according to the survey.
The world’s largest media real-time micro-blogging website has evolved from a simple social media platform since its inception in 2006.
In one year the company doubled its user base to 200m in 2012 (versus Facebook’s 837m users) with about 70 percent coming from outside the US, while revenue reached US$300m. The company sees 11 new accounts created every second, according to Infographics Labs (or about 1m new users every day) and has recorded over 160bn tweets since it was created. President Barack Obama’s tweet in November marking his election victory was the most retweeted of 2012.
Of the top ten websites visited by 135m internet users from the Arab world in October 2012, Google took the top spot with nearly 122m unique visitors, reaching 90 percent of the digital population in the Middle East and Africa, according to comScore data. Facebook attracted 101m unique visitors, putting it in second place, followed by Microsoft with nearly 76m unique visitors. Yahoo! followed with 68m, and Twitter came in tenth place with 15.2m visitors.
The Middle East is one of the fastest-growing markets for Twitter. The site was instrumental during the protests that swept the Arab world over the past two years. It helped activists organise and arguably was a key ingredient in the toppling of leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.
Some projections estimate a Twitter IPO could value the company at US$9bn, while Greencrest says the figure could be as much as US$11bn and possibly more if the company manages to illustrate a propensity to reap higher revenue growth.