Facebook says it has 45m users across Arab world

Joanna Shields, vice president and managing director of Europe, Middle East and Africa of Facebook Inc., left, Jonathan Labin, head of global marketing solutions for the Middle East and North Africa of Facebook Inc., center, and Christian Hernandez, director of platform partnerships (Bloomberg).

Facebook, the social network that listed this month in one of the largest initial public offerings (IPOs) in US history, said it has more than 45m users in the MENA region, with 20m users connecting daily. The California-based firm released the figures at the official launch of its first office in the Middle East in Dubai on Wednesday.

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Facebook said it will target regional fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies as it looks to boost advertising revenues in the oil-rich region amid an economic slowdown in Europe.

“It is a substantial region in terms of opportunity. If you look at Europe, Middle East and North Africa as one region, it represents some of the highest growth rates for us,” Joanna Shields, vice president and managing director for Facebook Europe, Middle East and Africa told Arabian Business.

“In Europe the economic situation is challenging so here we have a vibrant potential economies and new markets to tap into it,” she added.

Facebook, which is facing mounting pressure to monetise its products following its IPO, said it has already worked with Dubai-based Emirates Airline, Qatar’s Al Jazeera Network and PepsiCo to grow their social network presence and its primary focus will be multinationals.

“There is obviously opportunity with companies based in this region that have a global remit or opportunity,” said Shields.

“Then of course [there are] the larger FMCG companies, quick service restaurants and all the ones that do business locally here but need a dedicated presence. I think the multinationals based here are our primary focus.”

Shares in Facebook slid to below US$29 on Tuesday as investors fled the market amid concerns about the social network’s long-term business prospects and an initial offering price that proved too rich.

Since its market debut at US$38 on May 18, the eight-year old company has lost around US$25bn in value. Analysts have said the firm may struggle to translate its growing presence on mobile devices, an area dominated by Google and Apple.

Days before Facebook’s debut, General Motors announced it was pulling its paid advertising on the website, after America’s largest automaker determined its ads on the social network had little effect on consumers.

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