A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending some quality time in Doha, the capital of Qatar. It was a really insightful trip but what made it memorable were the findings about how Qataris and people living in Qatar use social, and how much social media is impacting business all over the country.
What I didn’t know before visiting was that many young Qataris are true ‘Geeks’ –early adopters who fit right in with the hyper connected, savvy generation that we see in the US and Asia.
As a wealthy and relatively new nation, Qatar has 88.1% individual Internet penetration – the highest in the Middle East, and second highest in the world.
Over half of Qatar’s population, that’s over one million people, use the Internet at least once a day to visit a social media website. They spend an average of two hours a day on social media websites, with people aged 18-24 spending up to four hours per day. That’s a significant amount of time., but people in Qatar love to share information, they love to stay abreast of the latest events, gossip, news that is happening locally, regionally and on the international playing field.
Although Qatar has a smaller population, Social Media usage is skyrocketing:
- 680,000 users on Facebook
- 300,00 users on Twitter
- 310,000 users on LinkedIn
Online Communities are flourishing in Qatar
Where do people in Qatar hang out online? Be it for men or women, be it about cars, sports, fashion or any other topic, Qataris and Expats form their own very distinct and vibrant communities. Some communities are private for cultural reasons; others allow people who are fans Qatar Super Cars to join but what is notable is the fact that these are thriving, lively and highly engaged people who are passionate about the topics around which they are congregating. Brands are not leveraging this social behavior well yet in Qatar and I think it’s a huge missed opportunity
Twitter and Instagram are huge in Qatar
During my visit, I got to speak to brands, government employees and influencers and what was interesting was the focus on Twitter and Instagram amongst the hyper connected Qatari population. It seems these platforms are popular because they are instant, highly visual and drive personal status very quickly.
Qatar is a nation of #Tweeps.
- 65% of Qataris use Twitter
- V/s 49% of Arab expats, 27% of Asian expats, and 24% of Westerners in the country.
Instagram usage amongst Qataris is HUGE. 1 in 2 of all Qataris use Instagram which is incredible, when you consider only 12% of Arab expats and 8% of Westerners leverage this visual platform.
Instagram for retail is used widely and is fast becoming the new platform for start-ups, and home businesses. Dominated by enterprising women, the visual nature of Instagram appeals to business owners that want to showcase and sell the products/services they provide. Food products, specifically sweets, cosmetics, fashion and wedding planning services are all doing great business from this platform. What’s even more interesting is that they integrate Whatsapp like they do in Lebanon if people are interested in purchasing. This helps in incorporating social media into day-to-day affairs related to buying and selling, and thus provides an easy analysis about this growing trend.
Influencers are highly popular social entrepreneurs
What’s intriguing about Qatar unlike other Arab or Levant markets is the focus on creating influencers that are actually social business men/women. I #LOVE that about this market. This provides a very refreshing outlook. I think it’s fantastic to see true social and digital influencers drive the knowledge base forward here.
Qatar has provided a great environment for enterprising young Qataris to leverage social media to create personal brands. You need to look no further than key influencer and major voice of Qatar – Mr Q as a great example of this. His passionate and heartfelt love for his country and unwavering focus on authenticity brings a fresh and unique perspective to anyone wanting to visit this country. He is clearly a visionary and his weekly Qtips are hilarious!
Another key influencer is Mohammed Saadon Alkuwari – I didn’t get to meet him but he is the current brand ambassador for Audi and Qatar Charity. Alkuwari is an Al Jazeera sports presenter, watched by huge audiences outside the Qatari market: his chap has Wasta! If you want to check him out – follow him on Twitter here or LinkedIn to him here.
Shorooq Shaheen is a lady I am DYING to meet. A Qatari student filmmaker who works at DFI, she is very famous for her talent for film. Last year she took her work to the UAE for both film festivals to be showcased and is a highly social Qatari female, very engaged and lively – check out her Twitter here. These promising young guns of Qatar are a great influence for others, they set an exampled for the youth to come and participate and yield such talent for Qatar.
The Qatari government is all over social and is leading the way in terms of driving social media platforms and communities across the country. Indeed, Qatar is one of the few Middle Eastern markets that use well-constructed forums to showcase their nation.
Social media has been instrumental in delivering the vision of transforming Qatar into an internationally recognized hub for business, pleasure and sport. Having said that, many of the top brands on social media platforms are managed or owned by the Qatari government. With so many social platforms deliberately showcasing the country in a light that would appeal to foreigners – tolerant, modern with a focus on philanthropy, education. Brands that do well are Telecoms – Ooredoo Qatar, Travel – Qatar Airways, property – Qatar Coral.
If you spend any time in Doha one thing that you notice within about five minutes is that people are in constant communication on an hourly, minute-by-minute basis. Wherever you go, you see people holding their phones, taking pictures, saying let’s see what X posted about X topic (A football game, the latest fashion etc.…) Users in Qatar are hyper inquisitive and love content that is new, exciting or different. If something goes viral in Qatar, it happens fast.I can’t wait to see what happens next with social and Qatar. One thing’s for sure, I’ll be back!