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A look at the networked Middle East

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22 February 2011 13:29

With the Middle East continuing to reshape itself and so much focus on youth-led uprisings and their use of social media as an organising tool, I was curious to see what the networked Middle East looks like. The chart below uses US Census Bureau stats from 2010, mobile stats from the International Telecommunications Union and internet rates from internetworldstats.

All ten countries except Bahrain have more than 50% of their population under 30 years of age (Bahrain, with 48%, isn't far behind). The two countries that have had successful uprisings, Egypt and Tunisia, have slightly differing profiles. Of the ten countries included in this chart, Egypt has the equal third largest youth bulge (61 per cent), while Tunisia has the second smallest (51 per cent). Egypt also has the second lowest mobile penetration rate (although it's still high at 67 per 100 inhabitants). This compares with Tunisia's rate of 95 per 100. 

When it comes to mobile and internet connectivity, Bahrain is the most wired of the countries, while Yemen is the least. While Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Kuwait have the highest mobile penetration rates — with all four having more than one phone per inhabitant — you have to wonder what difference this extra connectivity would make when it comes to organising an uprising, especially when phones are probably already concentrated among younger people.  

From a connectivity perspective, Yemen would appear to be the trickiest place in which to organise a revolution. 

Follow Fergus on Twitter @FergusHanson.

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