A new study into the internet usage habits and attitudes of consumers in the Middle East and North Africa revealed that the internet is now a main source of information, with 78% saying that they used the medium for reading news at least once a month.
The study, which was conducted in cooperation with research firm YouGov Siraj, is based on survey responses of 13,847 people (aged 16+) from the United Arab Emirates, KSA, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Pakistan collected online between 30th October and 22nd November.
Eighty-seven percent of respondents said that the internet had replaced print news sources to some extent – 93% of respondents from Oman now rely on the internet for political news, followed by 90% in Egypt. Only 13% from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain claimed that there's been ‘no change' when asked to indicate to what extend the internet has replaced print as their main source for political news coverage.
In terms of business news, 90% of regional respondents now use the internet as a main source to varying degrees with heavy usage coming from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Algeria, while 91% of the region's respondents claim the internet is also a top source for lifestyle and leisure news.
While reading news was identified as one of the main uses of the internet (78%) in the region, e-mail took top position (83%). Other popular online activities include searching for jobs, (77%), visiting social networking sites and listening to music (57% each).
Other interesting highlights from the study include the general unpopularity of making online payments in the region, with only 45% saying they felt comfortable making payment transactions online for personal matters, and a sizeable 70% of online users in the United Arab Emirates stating that they felt virtual interaction was replacing personal contact.