Saturday, November 29, 2014
2014 Social Media Outlook in the UAE and a Brainstorming Case, #uabrainstorm
Currently, there are more than 85 million social media users in the Arab world. For example, we can all make a quick guess on the Arab country having the largest number of Facebook users as we all have fresh memories on how the Arab spring had started. There are 20 million Facebook users in Egypt. But when it comes to the percentage of Facebook users in the total population, then Qatar is at the top with 62.9 %.
The Governance and Innovation Programme at the Mohammad Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG) and the Dubai Press Club cooperatively conducted an interesting research on social media use in the region. Three thousand people participated in the study “2014 UAE Social Media Outlook; Increasing Connectivity Between Government and Citizen”.
Some highlighted results of the study will be mentioned below. Besides, the whole report can be seen from the link: mbrsg
Internet search engines are more popular method to reach information as 37 % of the participants reported that they prefer doing so when they need a governmental information. The second most favored method was surfing on the official governmental webpage (30 %). However, only 4 % of the respondents stated social media as their preferred method. Nonetheless, the participants favoring mobile applications was only 2 %.
The main reason that the UAE wants to use social media as a communication method with governmental agencies is to make citizens more involved in the decision making process of the government. In the foreword of the study it is stated by Dr Ali Sebaa Al Marri, Executive President of MBRSG, that “Today, citizens and residents in the UAE are not just passive recipients of government services but are active partners in the development of these services.”, however, the results of the research suggest that citizens use social media to seek governmental information rather than interacting with governmental bodies. According to the Director of the Program, Racha Mourtada, people still do not feel themselves comfortable when they are sharing their personal information. But she says this is normal for a new way of communication and people will be more trustful within time. (gulfnews)
For example, people were asked if they have ever provided a feedback to the government on service delivery. As it can be seen in the figure below (retrieved from the report), 44.7% of the respondents never left a feedback. Dr. Al Marri points out the importance of the feedback and he says there should be more public awareness on this issue. Respondents favored the answer ‘training and capacity building for government employees’ when they are asked about increasing the role of social media in citizen engagement.
“Have you ever provided feedback to the government on service delivery?”
In the final part of the report, there is a brainstorming case. In December, 2013 a brainstorming session via Twitter was initiated by the Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum to get citizens’ opinions on education and healthcare issues. He announced from his Twitter account that they want to hear citizens’ opinions on the issues they are facing with on the aforementioned areas. At the end of a few days long brainstorming session, over 82 thousand of suggestions were received via Twitter under the hashtag of #uabrainstorm or emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the report it is stated that the results were promising for more public participation in UAE’s future. Such an integration will help government activities to be more transparent and encourage citizens to communicate more with the government with using technology.