ContentMarketing, DigitalMarketing, InboundMarketing

The We Are Social Global Report offers annual insights into internet adoption trends, social media stats, and mobile internet usage across the globe.

The We Are Social Global Report is something of an annual event in the digital marketing world. The report explores the evolution of the global digital landscape, outlining the latest digital marketing trends, social media insights, and mobile usage stats. For marketers, this information is invaluable as it helps us to discern what the future holds and use its findings to inform strategic decisions about our digital marketing strategies.

In this article, we’ll examine the key findings of the 2021 report, with a particular focus on the dynamic digital landscape of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. We’ve got plenty to cover, so let’s dive right in!

Note: All of the statistics mentioned in this article can be found in 2021 We Are Social Global Report unless otherwise stated.

What is the We Are Social Global Report?

The 2021 We Are Social Global Report was published in partnership between We Are Social and Hootsuite. It brings together the latest digital trends and tech usage stats from around the world and combines them into an accessible and digestible digital marketing report.

Despite the unprecedented year 2020 brought us, digital growth shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The global pandemic only exacerbated digital growth, as people turned to the internet and social media to work, connect with friends and family, and shop online. Key trends of this year’s report include:

  • Changes in search behavior
  • Evolving online audience demographics
  • The rise of eCommerce
  • The importance of mobile 
  • Developments in social media marketing metrics

The report is split into global insights and regional reports, detailing how different countries around the world are interacting with the world of digital. Now you know all about the report and what it explores, let’s take a look at some key global insights before delving into regional reports centered on the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Key Findings for 2021

We’ve selected some key findings from this year’s We Are Social digital marketing report that we feel are particularly poignant in today’s digital landscape. We’ve provided a short analysis of how the finding relates to digital marketing.

1. The total number of internet users has grown by 7.3% from 2020 to reach 4.66 billion

As the global population adjusted to the world of remote work and online dependency, there was a huge rise of 316 million internet users since 2020.

Moreover, people are spending more time using the internet every day. At the end of 2020, people were spending an incredible 6 hours and 45 minutes online! With that in mind, it’s clear to see that opportunities are abundant for online marketers to reach consumers.



The main reason people go online is still to find information, however, search behaviors are changing, which has a salient impact on marketers’ efforts to engage their digital audience. A rise in voice and social media search is at the forefront, as people seek alternatives to text-based search engines. This means marketers need to pay attention when crafting inbound strategies to focus on voice search optimization, local marketing strategies, and engaging a social media audience.

2. Mobile internet users account for 92.6% of total internet users. 

This statistic makes it clear that we’re living in a mobile-first world. The report also found that 66.6% of the world’s total population uses a mobile phone, and mobile traffic accounts for a whopping 55.7% of global web traffic. So what does this focus on mobile mean for marketers?


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Most digital marketers have already recognized the importance of mobile. Mobile-optimization is a key part of any digital marketing strategy. People expect to be able to access information and make transactions on their mobile as they would on a PC. In fact, 61% of consumers say that they’re more likely inclined to purchase from a mobile-friendly site.

So—if it isn’t already—mobile should be a key focus of your digital marketing efforts.

3. The number of social media users is equal to 53% of the global population

Social media has become such an integral part of our everyday lives, it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without it. But it wasn’t that long ago when people were picking up their landline phone and dialing their friend’s phone number to organize their weekend plans!

The prevalence of social media holds particular significance for digital marketers. People spend an average of 4.25 hours per day using social media platforms. This provides plenty of opportunities for social media marketing! Social media marketing enables marketers to reach their audience where they are, resulting in increased traffic, better conversions, and increased brand engagement—all of which are great for business!




The Current Digital Landscape in Saudi Arabia and UAE

What did the report have to say about current digital usage trends in Saudia Arabia and the UAE? Let’s find out.

We dived into the Digital 2021: Saudia Arabia and Digital 2021: The UAE regional reports to find out more about the state of digital in these two nations located in western Asia.

Internet Use

General internet usage adoption statistics are significant among both countries. In the UAE there are 9.84 million internet users, accounting for a whopping 99% of the population. Gaming is on the rise in UAE, with 86% of internet users playing games across their devices.

In Saudia Arabia, 59.5% of the population are active online, and spend an average of 7 hours and 45 minutes connected each day! Although internet use is less prevalent compared to the population than it is in UAE, it’s growing year-on-year as the nation adapts to global tech trends and internet usage. Another key finding from the report found that 91% of internet users are active gamers, spending almost 2 hours per day on online gaming. That’s a lot of gaming! 

The gaming world is a growing area of interest for marketers, but it requires a different approach. A focus on influencer-based marketing and voice search growth are two key areas to focus on when marketing towards gaming-oriented areas.

Mobile use is on the rise

In the UAE, mobile devices account for 60.5% of traffic, an 11% year-on-year increase. In comparison, mobile use in Saudia Arabia is slightly lower at 52.9%. However, it experienced an incredible 50% year-on-year growth.

In Saudi Arabia, the main mobile applications people use are social networking apps (95.9%), followed by entertainment and video apps (83.1%), map apps (74.6%), and online shopping apps (67.7%). Similarly, in the UAE, the most popular use cases for mobile include social networking apps (93.2%), entertainment apps (77.3%), and shopping apps (65.7%).

With these statistics in mind, it’s clear that both nations are experiencing huge surges in the use of internet-connected mobile devices. As their populations turn to mobile for communicating with peers, engaging with brands, entertainment, and making online transactions. Online shopping use is extremely prevalent on mobile in each nation, making it essential for brands and businesses to ensure their eCommerce websites are optimized for mobile.

Social Media Trends

In Saudi Arabia, the number of social media users remained unchanged since last year, at 99% of the total population, however they’re still spending an average of 3 hours and 6 minutes per day using social platforms. The most popular social media platforms are YouTube, Whatsapp, and Instagram, and 60% of the population use social media as their primary search method.

In the UAE, social media penetrates 99% of the population and is quickly becoming the nation’s preferred method for search. 52% of the population aged between 16-64 use social media to discover information about brands. As a result, social media advertising increased to $171 million, which makes it the biggest digital media spend category.

To reach these markets, marketers need to focus on social media as a key vehicle for advertising and information search.

Create Data-driven Digital Marketing Strategies

Phew, that was a lot of information. Now you’re probably wondering how you can use the We Are Social Global Report and other digital marketing reports to inform your strategies? It all comes down to knowing your audience.

This report, and others like it, are a wealth of information that can be used to create data-driven marketing strategies that yield results. These reports tell you exactly how audiences in your area are interacting in a digital world. You can discover where your audience is hanging out, how long they spend online, and what they do online. This information can then be used to inform your buyer personas (remember those?)—in other words, semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers.

These reports also allow you to spot significant trends shaping audience behavior and internet usage. This way, you can stay-up-to-date and a step ahead of your competitors by ensuring your digital strategies align with the needs and behaviors of your target audience.


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