Dubai: Google has launched a campaign to develop online videos in the fast-growing market of Saudi Arabia, where residents watch more hours of YouTube content per capita than anywhere else in the world.
Over the past year, time spent on YouTube in the conservative kingdom has increased fivefold, persuading Google to hold a seminar in the oil-rich kingdom to foster closer relationships with producers of Arabic-language web videos.
About 60 per cent of the 350 million people in the Arab world are younger than 25, with internet penetration in the region at about 70 million users — over 300 per cent growth in the last five years, according to numbers from UAE-based entrepreneurship research portal Sindibad Business. Internet penetration is expected to reach 150 million users by 2015.
Traditional media in Saudi Arabia, where more than half the population is younger than 35, is failing to engage youngsters who are turning to the internet for relevant drama, comedy, sports and news.
The same trend is sweeping the broader region, where 310m video views a day make the Middle East and north Africa the world’s second-highest online viewership after the US.
That has generated concern among some of the region’s states about the rise in political expression.
Google, which works closely with Gulf governments, says the company’s policy is to restrict access to videos in countries where it has been notified of a valid legal complaint…. see more