News Group International Sees Social Media Driving Struggle for Arab Ideas and Identity
Calls for Freedom Accompanied by Explosion in Socialist Preferences
Report finds 85% of people approve of Muslim Brotherhood participation in politics
06 Apr, 2011, 09:06 ET
WASHINGTON, April 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A new social media analysis report has identified a rapidly growing preference for neo-socialist politics among Arabs who are taking part in the region's revolutionary movements.
The study, conducted by News Group International, the Dubai based media intelligence company, found that 70 percent of online conversations called for Arab governments to play a significantly greater role in their national economies.
The report was a preview of News Group's Arab Media Influence Report (AMIR) and was presented at "Arab Social Media & Predictive Analytics," an event held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
"We are facing a dichotomy," explained Mazen Nahawi, president of News Group. "On the one hand the public is calling for freedom, accountability and justice. On the other hand over 70% of them are also demanding that their governments take the lead in solving national problems, increasing public sector pay and taking the central role in economic and social planning going into the future."
Nahawi said many governments in the region had responded to these calls with large increases in public spending and employment in state institutions: "Saudi Arabia has just unveiled a $93 billion program that focuses on free public housing and the employment of 50,000 people in the security services. Countries like Oman, Jordan, Syria and Algeria are taking similar steps, while somewhat different in scale, they are identical in taking much larger government involvement to appease public anger."
The study drew a parallel between this trend of neo-socialism and government policy most directly in Egypt, where many businessmen from the country and around the world are losing their businesses. Several are being held on charges for being associated with the regime. "It is a throw back to the Nasser era in the 1960s, where billions in private businesses were either seized or put under the radar of the state – this goes for businessmen who may have taken illegal advantage of their relationship with the former regime, but it also is impacting many entrepreneurs who did no wrong," said Nahawi.
The second main political trend identified in the social media analysis was the rapid increase in conversation about Islamic political movements, with a particular focus on the Muslim Brotherhood, and, to a lesser extent, the Salafi movement.
"We found 85% of Egyptians and similarly high numbers of people across the region approving of the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood in politics," explained Fadl Al Tarzi, COO of News Group. "That did not translate into support for the Brotherhood which varies at between 8% and 21% depending on the country and demographic being studied."
The Arab Media Influence Report (AMIR) is based on an analysis of data from over 10 million online conversations each day. "Our data shows that social media is continuing to play a major role in determining the course of popular uprisings around the Arab world," Al Tarzi said.
"News Group's findings in last year's report accurately identified that social media had created a new Arab consciousness that was leading to major changes in the way people viewed themselves and their place in life," added News Group President Mazen Nahawi. "Social media did not create the Arab Spring, but it was a key driver because it allowed the development of free, interactive thinking in the Arab heart and mind. Once people realized they could love who they want, do business with who they want, choose the products they preferred and talk freely about their experiences with people around the world…. It was a logical conclusion that their next step would be demand for major political change."
The complete preview of the AMIR can be found at http://newsgroup.ae/amir2011/amir-march-29.pdf.
A video of the entire presentation and panel discussion can be found at http://www.viddler.com/explore/GothamMedia/videos/103/.
Findings from the preview include:
- There are now 65 million Internet users in the Arab world. That number is expected to reach 80 million by 2012. That figure represents 30.8 percent, higher than the global average of 28.7 percent.
- "The Syrian Revolution" Facebook page currently has over 95,000 fans and is increasing in popularity. Over 70% of users responded negatively to the recent reforms announced by the Syrian government.
- In Q 1 2010 35% of Arabic conversations on social media included political terms, this number increased to 88%i n 2011.
- Many users think that the Arab region will be ripe for an Arab union that ends years of unjustified splits and disagreements.
- In Egypt positive opinions of the U.S. slipped from 43% in 2010 to 27% in 2011. Negative sentiment grew from 35% to 63% in the same period.
- There are now 17 million Facebook users in the Arab world. In 2010 Arabic became the fastest growing language on Facebook.
The presentation of the AMIR preview was followed by a panel discussion featuring noted experts and analysts of social and traditional media in the Arab world, including:
Mazen Nahawi President, News Group International, the Dubai based news management company, monitoring and analyzing traditional and social media around the MENA Region
Sheldon Himelfarb Associate Vice President of the Center of Innovation for Media, Conflict, & Peace building, United States Institute of Peace
Paul Swider Special Projects Editor, Office of eDiplomacy, United States Department of State
Adel Iskandar Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University
Camille Elhassani Senior White House Producer, Al-Jazeera English
Much of the conversation focused on the use of social media as an analytical tool to forecast future events in the Arab-speaking world. "You cannot Google the future," explained Nahawi. "But, just as we did last year and now again in this report, you can identify trends that are shaping public discourse and enable yourself to prepare and react to them effectively." Selections from last year's panel discussion are available at http://www.newsgroup.ae/past-year-videos.htm
News Group International's 2011 Arab Media Influence Report (AMIR) is now available for purchase. The Report can be fully customized according to your requirements, including focusing on specific political or socio-economic issues, focusing on particular geographies, adding Farsi social media content, etc. Please contact [email protected] for more information about purchasing this year's AMIR or other News Group services.
About News Group News Group is a news management company founded in 2002. The company and its subsidiaries specialize in the sourcing, distribution, creation, monitoring and analysis of news content in the emerging markets of the Middle East, Africa and the Indian sub-continent. The group includes seven subsidiaries that employ over 300 people. News Group is based in Dubai and operates in 30 countries across the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region, primarily through its subsidiaries
Email: [email protected]
Fadl Al Tarzi
News Group International
USA Tel: 202-281-4071
Dubai Tel: +917504598156
Email: [email protected]
SOURCE News Group International
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