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Twitter in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. [The National]

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More press love! Jen Gerson has an article in The National on Twitter usage in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. She reached out to me (DMing me on Twitter of course) to find out how the technology was changing my web patterns. The social network has been growing fast recently and now seems to be taking off in the Middle East too.

    Twitter received 376,000 unique visitors from the Middle East and Africa in February. Since the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority lifted its ban on Twitter last August, the number of users has been steadily growing and Carrington Malin, the managing director at Spot On, said it was moving into the mainstream.

She’s right to highlight Spot On PR – possibly the most impressive usage of Twitter from a company in Dubai. Other notable corporate users include the minaseyahi and the Emirates Airlines International Festival of Literature who really stood out for the way they handled the gay book controversy. Both embrace the conversational culture of the service.

We seem to be at a turning point of Twitter growth in the region. From practically no overlap with my offline friends (who are generally non-techies non-geeks and a few years older than the digital native set) my Twitter community now includes a dozen or so real world friends from the Middle East. Initially I put the minimal overlap down to a generational divide but recent reports indicate that older users have been driving much of the network’s recent growth. Anecdotally this seems to now be happening here too, perhaps also spurred by the growing list of UAE and Qatari corporations signing up. The Dubai World Trade Center is just the latest organization experimenting with it as a marketing and community building tool.

Twitter has been the most recent web-changing technology for me (RSS and Facebook the other noteworthy game-changers). Anastasia Koriukova’s quote expresses one of the main reasons why: “There’s so much clutter in Dubai, it’s actually a relief. Twitter helps me to find out what’s going on in Dubai”. The people I follow are in essence constantly editing the world and the world wide web for me. In real-time.
You can see this trend playing out by looking at the web traffic patterns. Facebook and Twitter have been moving up the traffic referral charts fast (although nowhere close to challenging Google’s dominance – yet). Fred Wilson, as usual, has some great insights on what he calls Earned Media and Passed Links.

If you’re new to Twitter in this part of the world, here are a few recommended UAE / Doha Twitterers to get you started:

@Esperanca
@TomSP
@TomGara
@PKGulati
@9714
@Tarek (Al Jazeera)
@abhamalpani
@simonesebastian
@jamesEd_me
@Riy
@mrayyan

I’m at @shehabhamad.

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