By Ed Attwood
Social networking site says Saudi Twitter users surged by 240% in 2010
The number of Twitter users in Saudi Arabia rose by 240 percent in 2010, significantly above the global average, new data has shown.
UK paper Asharq Al Awsat reported that the increase in ‘tweets’ – or messages shared by Saudi users – had risen to 440 percent, compared to the world average of 95 percent.
The newspaper said that micro-blogging and social network sites did not have a policy of disclosing the actual number of users or tweets from specific countries.
The Twitter website has 175m registered users globally, with 95m tweets written every day, according to its latest statistics provided in September last year.
Saudi Arabia is the Gulf's most conservative state, but has seen a surge in online networking in recent years among its young population.
Asharq Al Awsat quoted a Saudi blogger as saying that the 2009 Jeddah floods had opened the doors for many Saudis to interact via social sites, prompting widespread registration.
Twitter became especially prominent in the Middle East just after the Iranian election last year. Many Iranians used the site to disseminate information to outside media agencies, thus bypassing state censorship.
The news comes as Saudi Arabia issues new laws that seek to regulate news websites and blogging activities in the kingdom.
Online newspapers will need to have editors in chief that have formally been approved by the Ministry of Information and Culture (MOCI).
The rules, which will be introduced in a month’s time, will also require net newspapers, blogs and forums to be licensed by the ministry.
Applicants for those licences will need to be a Saudi national, older than 20, with high school qualifications and “documents testifying to their good behaviour”.
Thank you for the useful stats!