The historic and on-going developmental challenges in the Arab region call for novel and collaborative responses by government institutions, private sector entities and civil society structures. On a global scale, technological innovations have been key enablers for more inclusive developmental responses, better governance models and, more recently, with the growth of social media usage in the Arab region,for inclusive public service delivery and policy formulation.
Over the past four years, the Arab Social Media Report Series, produced by the Governance and Innovation Program, explored growth and usage trends of social media in the Arab region and provided in depth analysis on the impact of these transformations on regional levels. The sixth issue of the report, launched today under the title ‘Citizen Engagement and Public Services in the Arab World: The Potential of Social Media’aims to focus on the impact of social media use on citizen engagement and public service delivery in the Arab region.
Building on the findings of a previous research project conducted by the Governance and Innovation Program, we conducted, in this report, a large regional survey exploring the impact of social media on citizen engagement and public service delivery and design. It was clear that attitudes towards social media use by Arab governments for public service delivery were largely positive, as were the perceptions surrounding associated benefits, including increased service accessibility, improved quality of services,inclusiveness and reduced cost. Additionally, the survey revealed clear awareness among Arab public of related risks such as cyber security, negative participation, lack of proficiency by public entities and invalid information. However, actual usage of government social media pages by citizens to gather information on services or provide feedback proved surprisingly low - given citizens’ heightened expectations of social media’s benefits; a finding that could be directly linked to low levels of trust in government responsiveness.
Government officials who do use social media platforms to engage with citizens in the Arab region, however, did report that their government entities are using it for exactly these two purposes.
In addition to the regional survey, this edition of the report continues to provide regional statistics on social
media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.