Saturday, January 07, 2006

DIGILIFE | Arab men and women e-qual?

It's a known fact that, so far, male Arab users registered on the region's top sites outnumber females by, typically, three to one. Although some people may use this fact to claim that only one quarter of Internet users in the Arab world are female, that is not an accurate statement.

After all, women's interests as Internet users may lie elsewhere, other than the typical sites in the Arab World. Seeing as a comprehensive, methodological study, covering Arab countries, has not been conducted; it's really anybody's guess how many Arab women are online.

However, with young women and men today equally enjoying Internet access at home and at school, you can safely say that the 'new generation' of Arabs have gender parity.

The question becomes more complicated when we look at women of working, or married, age. Let's be honest about this. Married women in a typical Arab family, especially in the Gulf States, do not go to work. This means that their husbands may be using the Internet at the office, while they don't have access to the Internet at home. That can skew the numbers towards more male users of the Internet, in the age group of married men and women.

Also, the nature of Internet use differs as the interests of each gender differ. How that impacts the number of hours spent on the Internet and activity/inactivity of each gender remains to be seen.

First, let's establish the areas in which they probably use the Internet equally. Email and messaging seem to be areas in which both women and men are highly involved. In fact, and excuse this stereo-type, you'd expect women to be more involved than men in online chatting and discussions.

So, maybe, that's an area in which women supersede men.Onto Internet content- by which we mean the nature of the information which men or women would seek on the Internet- the decisive factor here would be what's available out there in Arabic. Are the popular Arabic sites offering primarily political/economic/sports news?

Please excuse me again for another stereo-typed conclusion, but such content would favor a higher percentage of males; particularly sports which is the strongest type of content in the Middle East. An Arab man will visit sports site daily, and sometimes several times a day to see the scores and read the news.

Economic and business sites present another example of a male-dominated audience, with the reason we mentioned before - the percentage of men who work is much higher than women- and you may add to that the percentage of men who make financial or investment decisions on behalf of the family is higher than women who do so.

Women-focused sites, on the other hand, are few but starting to emerge. They cover subjects like fashion, health, fitness, make-up, relationships and women-targeted products.

The number of visitors and page views of such sites is quite impressive, and this has drawn the attention of many of the male-focused portals that a huge potential lies in females!

Until we get a conclusive study, here’s a prediction for you. Half the Internet society is an untapped market, but not for long!


At 12:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i find it funny that you would assume that the internet is male dominated.. so i will laugh now. hehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehe heheheheheheh hehehehehehehehehe hehehehehehe. Thanks for the laugh.

At 12:37 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dont know about women choosing to work or not.. what i do know is that my salary is higher than any man's salary in amman... buggers. so have some respect for women and start treating them as your equals.. no need to gather statistics. just do it. the west travelled to the moon you buggers. and your greatest accomplishment as a nation is blogging. as for the saudi problem. i suggest they do what i call... dedressing. i.e. start by wearing black clothes instead of the black abayeh.. for a few years. increase the punishment of men who grope women.. by throwing them in jail.. and maybe whopping their ass with a belt.. yes.. that pleases me.

At 9:13 AM , Anonymous kinzi said...

Zeid, I think you forgot to mention that women generally don't visit porn sites. That would account for a large % of male viewership, I believe.

I'm a stay-at-home-mom, and with ADSL, I have to be careful not to overdo it.

I don't recall any female JP citizens writing about fashion, make-up, etc. That's not what I want to read about.

At 11:43 AM , Anonymous Zeid Nasser said...


First, of all, I'm glad I finlly got some comments on my blog! I haven't in a while.

I can see your points.

To Anonymous 1: No, I don't assume the Internet is male dominated. It's clear I'm saying there's a misconception among Arabs that it is (on, for example, 72% of users are mail, and it's the biggest Arab online community with 5 million users! On, a near 80% are male...)

To Anonymous 2, this article is not about Saudi Arabia society or religious beliefs and I don't think you or I can pass 'fatwa' on what Islamic dress should be like. But, I see you first point about females today being more successfull, and Internet-savy, than males. True, I actually have seen studies that show, statistically, that women are smarter than men.

And I remind you all that I clarified my position 3 times during the article before I stated a stereo-type or a misconeption. (the reason also being that it's a column I publish in a Jordanian newspaper, The Star weekly).

To Kinz, thanks for the comment. I agree that women have diverse interests, many of which they share with men (politics, business.. etc), but at the moment when someone launches a 'Woman-focused' site they use the content you typically find in Women magazines as a template(even in the US and Europe), and that's why it includes fashion, make-up and others.

Yes, I realize that you as a stay-home-mum & Internet user may be even more Internet-savy than many men & women! Good for you.

Thanks for the comments. And keep reading!

At 3:08 PM , Anonymous talasim said...


At 3:48 PM , Anonymous kinzi said...

Zeid, thanks for the kind words,although I consider myself a "technosaur". When I really learn to cut and paste, then I can become a blogger, and enter the new world for real. :)

I guess I never wrote to say "Welcome to JP!". I will visit more often and try to encourage you with comments. I'm a free-lance writer, and love it when people respond!

At 5:51 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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