As big fans of LinkedIn, we’re pleased to see Mountain View’s LinkedIn Corp. finally set up a Middle East and North Africa office. I am a keen business networker and I’m very happy with LinkedIn’s business focus and conservative approach to enabling business networking, even if it’s meant having to wait quite a long time for the current LinkedIn timeline, mobile apps and contact management tools that it boasts today. Joining LinkedIn’s network in 2004 and I’ve watched it grow, unaided by the Arab Spring, slowly, but surely in the region. However, the combination of the network adding new value-added social media features and the MENA region’s new-found enthusiasm for social networks has seen LinkedIn’s membership growth in the region gain real traction.
As mentioned in the official LinkedIn MENA launch press release, the biggest LinkedIn communities in the region are Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. However, in common with many other digital portal office launches over the last few years, official figures seem to be in short supply.
LinkedIn has introduced country options for advertisers in the region, to allow companies to target specific MENA markets, phase-by-phase. Two or three years ago the targeting options for the region were pretty basic and you couldn’t target many MENA country markets at all. Today you can target GCC states, Jordan and Lebanon, plus Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia in North Africa, or about 5 million targetable registered Linkedin users (6 million if you include Pakistan).
According to LinkedIn’s advertiser statistics the Pakistan leads the region in terms of numbers with 1.4 million registered users, the UAE is second with 1.1 million and Saudi Arabia is third with 0.775 million. We’ve been monitoring LinkedIn growth for some time and, as you might guess, growth really took off in 2011. The fastest growing LinkedIn community in the region is actually Saudi Arabia, which saw 140% growth from January 2011 to-date, while Pakistan saw 133% and the UAE, 99%. Jordan and Egypt are growing fast too, showing 132% and 127% increases on Jan 2011 membership figures respectively.
Overall, although strictly accurate calculations are not possible, membership in the Arab world has grown by about 140% since January 2011. That doesn’t quite match Facebook’s success in the Middle East, but it’s a lot more interesting to many of us interested in quality business-to-business networking.
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