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The Annual 2022: The year in social media

Here’s a quick round-up of the top 10 social media announcements in the Middle East last year.

  1. After months of legal drama and outrageous memes, Elon Musk finally closed the $44bn acquisition of Twitter in October, followed by approximately 7,500 layoffs. Earlier this year, the platform unveiled its privacy approach through gamification and encouraged more people to take charge of their personal information on the service. Twitter also launched features including branded likes in Saudi Arabia and Twitter Circle across the world, in addition to testing the Edit feature.
  2. Meta opened its new regional headquarters in the UAE in March this year, saying the move reflects the confidence of major global companies in the growth-friendly environment that Dubai offers. The offices in Dubai Internet City will serve the MENA region. In November however, Meta announced it would cut more than 11,000 jobs, or about 13 per cent of its workforce. The company is also cutting discretionary spending and extending its hiring freeze through the first quarter of next year.
  3. Streaming service Disney+, from The Walt Disney Company, launched in the UAE and 15 other markets across the MENA region. It enables subscribers to watch thousands of films, series and exclusive originals from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and general entertainment from Star on the Disney+ platform.
  4. In February this year, Anghami became the first Arab tech company to be listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The next month, Anghami unveiled a new brand positioning and identity across digital, social, app stores and its platform. In May, it reported a total revenue of $35.5m. It reported growth in advertising revenue by 70 per cent to $9.8m.
  5. YouTube’s ad revenue growth dropped sharply this year. In Q2, parent company Alphabet’s CEO stated that its video streaming platform posted a 5 per cent ad revenue growth, down from its 84 per cent growth rate in the same period last year. The growth continued to decline and reflect pullbacks as YouTube’s advertising revenue fell into the red in the third quarter of 2022. In Q3, the video platform’s ad revenue fell 2 per cent from $7.2 bn in 2021 to $7.07 bn this year. Meanwhile, in November, YouTube teamed up with Bein Sports for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
  6. Google announced the appointment of Anthony Nakache as the new managing director for Google MENA. Nakache took on the role, based in Dubai, after Google announced the departure of Lino Cattaruzzi to take on a global leadership role in the company as global customer partner. In April, Google launched Plus Codes in 18 countries. The tool lets people share where they are without addresses by using latitude and longitude co-ordinates.
  7. In November, Spotify launched its video podcasting capabilities in most global markets – including the UAE – where Spotify’s free podcasting tool Anchor is available. The new capability allows creators to use visual storytelling by accessing Spotify’s suite of podcast production tools and tapping into the platform’s global audience of 456 million monthly listeners.
  8. Middle East audiences can watch exclusive MBC and Al Arabiya TV shows on Snapchat this year. MBC Media Solutions and Snap entered a partnership to bring popular shows and exclusive content to  Snapchat’s platform. Snapchat’s community in the MENA region has grown substantially to 75 million unique Snapchatters by March this year, growing 33 per cent year on year. This year saw the introduction of features such as director mode, Snapchat for Web
    and Snapchat+.
  9. TikTok launched new time-based dual camera feature TikTok Now. It sends daily prompts to users to capture a 10-second video or a static photo to quickly and easily share what they are up to using their front and back cameras. Meanwhile,
    40 per cent of Gen Z use social media apps like TikTok and Instagram as a search engine, based on a recent study by Google.
  10. Instagram rolled out new sharing features this month including notes, group profiles and candid stories. With short posts of up to 60 characters, Notes are a new way for users to share their thoughts. With group profiles, users can share posts and stories with group members instead of their followers.