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22 March 2023
#Internet marketing

Digital market of UAE and KSA – an overview of “Digital 2023”

Datareportal service, creative agency We Are Social, and media analytics platform Meltwater have published a joint annual report that discusses the latest news and trends in the digital space.

Below are the main takeaways that directly relate to the mobile advertising, social platforms, and digital marketing market in the UAE and KSA regions.

At the end of the article, we make forecasts and provide recommendations that will be useful for sales professionals and anyone interested in the digital technology market.

For those who want to examine the data more closely, detailed information can be found at these links:

The United Arab Emirates

Digital Landscape in United Arab Emirates in 2023.

The following are the latest updates on digital trends and usage in the United Arab Emirates as of early 2023.

  • As of the beginning of 2023, there were approximately 9.38 million internet users in the United Arab Emirates, indicating a 99.0% internet penetration rate.
  • The United Arab Emirates had a total of 10.00 million social media users in January 2023, which accounts for 105% of the country’s population.
  • Early 2023 saw a staggering 19.05 million active cellular mobile connections in the United Arab Emirates, indicating a 200.9% mobile penetration rate.

Internet connection speeds in the United Arab Emirates in 2023

According to Ookla’s data, internet connection speeds in the UAE at the beginning of 2023 were quite high. Median mobile internet connection speed through cellular networks was 139.41 Mbps, while the median fixed internet connection speed was 186.76 Mbps.

Social media statistics

As for social media usage, at the start of 2023, the number of social media users in the UAE was equal to 105%* of the country’s total population. However, it’s worth noting that these users may not be unique individuals.

Top social media platforms’ ad planning tools showed that 9.75 million users above the age of 18 were using social media in the UAE at the beginning of 2023. This was equivalent to 125%* of the country’s total population aged 18 and above.

Moreover, in January 2023, at least one social media platform was used by 107%* of the UAE’s total internet user base, regardless of their age. Out of the social media users, 30.4% were female, while 69.6% were male.

* Surpassing 100% usage rates can shed light on the impact of duplicate or deceitful accounts on the inflation of user counts, as well as expose the degree to which users may falsify personal information such as their age, claiming to be over 18 while still being a minor.

YouTube users in the United Arab Emirates in 2023

Google’s advertising resources have recently revealed that YouTube had around 8.99 million users in the UAE at the beginning of 2023. However, it’s important to note that these advertising reach figures may not be the same as monthly active user figures, and there could be significant differences between the size of YouTube’s ad audience and its total active user base.

Nevertheless, according to the company’s data, YouTube’s ad reach in early 2023 was approximately 94.8% of the UAE’s total population at the start of the year, which is quite impressive. To provide further context, in January 2023, YouTube ads reached 95.8% of the UAE’s total internet user base, regardless of their age.

LinkedIn users in the United Arab Emirates in 2023

According to LinkedIn’s advertising resources, the platform had 6.60 million “members” in the UAE at the beginning of 2023. However, it’s worth noting that LinkedIn’s audience reach data is based on total registered members, rather than monthly active users, which makes it difficult to compare with figures from other social media platforms.

The advertising reach figures indicate that LinkedIn’s audience in the UAE was around 69.6% of the total population at the start of 2023. However, it’s important to keep in mind that LinkedIn is only available for users aged 18 and above, and 84.3% of the eligible audience in the UAE uses LinkedIn in 2023.

To provide further context, LinkedIn’s ad reach in the UAE was equivalent to 70.3% of the local internet user base, regardless of their age. In terms of gender, 30.9% of LinkedIn’s ad audience in the UAE at the beginning of 2023 were female, while 69.1% were male.

Mobile connections in the United Arab Emirates in 2023

GSMA Intelligence’s data reveals that there were 19.05 million cellular mobile connections in the United Arab Emirates at the beginning of 2023. It’s worth noting that many people use more than one mobile connection, such as one for personal use and another for work. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for mobile connection figures to exceed the total population significantly.

According to GSMA Intelligence, mobile connections in the UAE were equivalent to 200.9% of the total population in January 2023. The number of mobile connections in the UAE increased by 2.2 million or 13.3% between 2022 and 2023.

Saudi Arabia

Digital Adoption and Use in Saudi Arabia in 2023: a summary.

  • As of January 2023, Saudi Arabia had 36.31 million internet users, representing a 99.0% internet penetration rate.
  • Additionally, the country had 29.10 million social media users, or 79.3% of the total population.
  • Furthermore, there were 42.50 million active cellular mobile connections, equivalent to 115.9%* of the total population.


*While these figures suggest widespread digital adoption in Saudi Arabia, it is important to note that some people may have multiple mobile connections, and there may be nuances in the collection and analysis of user data that can impact the accuracy of these figures.

Internet connection speeds in Saudi Arabia in 2023

As of January 2023, Saudi Arabia had 36.31 million internet users, representing a 99.0% penetration rate. Internet adoption increased by 1.5% (or 539,000 users) from 2022 to 2023. Despite this, there are still 1.0% of the population, or 366.8 thousand people, who remain offline. Note that these figures may not reflect the true number of internet users due to data collection and analysis limitations.

Internet connection speeds in Saudi Arabia varied in early 2023, according to data from Ookla. The median mobile internet connection speed via cellular networks was 90.49 Mbps, while the median fixed internet connection speed was 88.12 Mbps. The median mobile internet connection speed decreased by 0.3% in the year leading up to January 2023, while fixed internet connection speeds increased by 9.6% during the same period.

LinkedIn users in Saudi Arabia in 2023

As of early 2023, LinkedIn had 7.30 million registered members in Saudi Arabia, or roughly 19.9% of the population. However, these figures are based on total registered members and do not reflect monthly active users.

The platform’s audience reach data suggests that 28.6% of the eligible audience uses LinkedIn. The ad reach of LinkedIn in Saudi Arabia was 20.1% of the local internet user base and increased by 1.2 million (19.7%) between 2022 and 2023.

Additionally, 22.6% of LinkedIn’s ad audience in Saudi Arabia were female, while 77.4% were male.

Mobile connections in Saudi Arabia in 2023

GSMA Intelligence data shows that there were 42.50 million cellular mobile connections in Saudi Arabia as of January 2023. However, this figure may be overstated, as many people use multiple mobile connections. Mobile connections in Saudi Arabia were equivalent to 115.9% of the total population.

The number of mobile connections increased by 4.1% (or 1.7 million connections) from 2022 to 2023.

Conclusions and Recommendations from BYYD

  • Neural networks are increasingly being integrated into the work of digital specialists – we talked about this in detail in this article. In 2023, AI, in particular platforms like ChatGPT, Dall•E, MidJourney, Stable Diffusion, and Synthesia, will become an important tool for many companies. The use of neural networks will bring improved performance and increased efficiency, but will also raise discussions about the legality, ethics, and potential for unlawful use of such technologies.

    The emergence of new AI tools, such as ChatGPT, can also affect the spread of misinformation and further distort data by “reprocessing” content. As a result, finding accurate representative data for work processes can be difficult. If you want to know what’s happening in the mobile technology, digital, and marketing markets, don’t miss our articles. We use the most reliable information and do everything we can to transmit only expert content.

  • Every year, internet users become more aware. People’s transition to thoughtful online activities and their desire to avoid “wasting time” will inevitably change the online reality.

    Undoubtedly, the results of this process can affect the behavior of advertisers. It is believed that marketing that transmits values important to the consumer and clearly segments its target audience will have more real chances of success. For example, now it is important to talk about the environment and zero waste production. Therefore, Lenovo’s primary environmental objectives for its operational facilities is to minimize the waste it generates, and to maximize recycling and reuse within their operations.

  • As the world is currently going through a poly-crisis (a combination of factors that negatively affect humanity), people will rationalize their subscriptions in response to financial difficulties or change their behavior in response to the need for mental well-being.

    For marketers and advertisers, this means that they need to spend more time maintaining the brand image and its faithful representation to the audience, creating advertising messages more carefully, and regularly adapting business processes to changing market conditions.

At BYYD, we help businesses increase brand recognition, cultivate audience loyalty, and attract new users. Our team also conducts a Brand Lift study that helps assess the organic recognition of the brand and its change after conducting a mobile advertising campaign.

Register in the BYYD platform or send your questions to our mail hello@byyd.me

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