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Twitter embarks on advertising drive in Middle East & North Africa

Twitter has moved to capitalise on its rapidly-expanding user base in the Middle East and North Africa by launching advertising services across the region.

The social network’s vice-president for international operations, Shailesh Rao, said the number of Twitter users in MENA has tripled over the past 12 months, opening up its populace up for increased penetration through advertising.

"The two are interconnected - the rapid growth of our user base with the timing of why we want to help brands connect with that audience," Rao told Reuters.

Estimates say digital advertising in MENA currently accounts for just four per cent of total ad spending; something that is likely to increase given the growing recognition of the region’s web-savvy generation, who took to social media in great numbers during the Arab Spring.

Egyptian firm Connect Ads is likely to play a significant role in the advertising charge, having been recruited by Twitter in November last year. The company is initially expected to launch adverts in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the UAE.

"Social media advertising is totally different because it relies on what people say,” Connect Ads’ managing director Mohamed El Mehairy commented to Reuters. “It's about two-way, not one-way, communication."