JEDDAH: SARAH ABDULLAH
Friday 21 September 2012
Last Update 21 September 2012 3:20 am
Social business consultancy firm “Social4ce” will launch a social media week on Sunday for the first time in Jeddah.
The Social Media Week (SMW) is an event that explores the social, cultural, and economic impact of social media and will be held from Sept. 23 to 27 at various venues around Jeddah, such as Red Sea Mall, Elaf Hotel, Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Effat University.
“The aim of the SMW is to help people and organizations connect through collaboration and the sharing of ideas and information,” Bilal Hallab, partner and social business strategist at Social4ce, said.
Hallab said the week was held in Beirut last year. “It was such a big hit that we decided to identify and conduct SMW each time in a different city in the Middle East. SMW takes place twice yearly, once in February and then again in September. Last year, we began with Beirut, this year Jeddah, next year Doha, and depending on the reviews this year, we might bring it back to Jeddah,” he said.
When asked what factor prompted the decision to choose Jeddah this year, Hallab said, “When deciding which city to go to this year, we had four cities on the table.
We already conducted it in Beirut last year. We thought of the essence of the event, the fusion of speakers with different routes, backgrounds and expertise, the integration of topics, and we knew we wanted a cosmopolitan city. I have personally lived in Jeddah for many years now, and I know Jeddah’s potential. I know Jeddah’s hunger for creativity. We couldn’t think of a better place to host the event,” he said.
According to Hallab, Saudi Arabia caters to approximately 17 percent of all social network usage in the region with the highest number of YouTube daily viewers globally. More than 9 million videos are watched every day. When the global growth rate of Twitter was 300 percent, Saudi Arabia’s growth rate reached 600 percent. With over 400,000 Twitter and 4 million Facebook users, Saudi Arabia has by far the highest social media penetration in the MENA region, which is forecast for further growth.
“What shocks is not the social media penetration in Saudi Arabia, but that almost half of it is being consumed from handhelds. I always come across users who have signed up to a social network and have been heavy users ever since from their mobile phone or tablet. Some people don’t even know how the user interface looks on a desktop or laptop. This is all due to the technological advancements offered in the Kingdom,” Hallab said.
“Our only objective from the event is raising awareness, sharing knowledge, and educating those interested in learning the true value of social media, whether in business, education, or any industry you can think of. This is the beauty of the event. We will not only be talking numbers and statistics.
We will be talking value. We will also address why and how everything has become social, and what is in it for businesses and organizations on the one hand and individuals or consumers on the other,” Hallab concluded.
Those wishing to register or get more information can log on to the SMW Jeddah website at: socialmediaweek.org/jeddah
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