Yemeni youth are crazy for Facebook [Archives:2008/1173/Last Page]

July 17 2008

By: Alia Ishaq
Facebook, a social networking site created by a student at Harvard University four years ago, is now one of the most popular websites in the world with more than 80 million active users globally, not to mention the thousands of users in Yemen.

Facebook was designed to connect friends together, allowing them to create their own profiles where they can add photos and updated information about their lives. It also lets users view their friends' profiles according to their privacy settings and get the news on these friends' lives right away without the need to email someone directly.

The site was initially restricted for Harvard University students, and during its first month, more than half of Harvard University undergraduates joined the site. The site was then introduced to other universities in the United States and later on expanded to all universities worldwide. In 2005, Facebook expanded its membership eligibility to high school students and employees of certain companies. Now, the only requirement to join Facebook is a valid email address and a minimum age of 13. The website is free to join; it makes money through corporate advertisements, not through subscription.

According to statistics by, a web information company, Facebook ranks in the top 10 most popular sites websites worldwide. The social networking website that was launched in February 2004 has grown even more popular in the Arab countries where it ranked as high as the first most popular site in countries like Lebanon.

In Yemen, the website is ranked at 18th most popular networking websites. Compared to other social networking websites like Hi5, which ranked as the 66th most popular website in Yemen, Facebook is way more influential.

With some of his friends, Zuckerberg first launched what he called “the Facebook” from his dorm room in Harvard, an online version of the student directory of Harvard where students can message each other. Within just four months, the website expanded to 40 other colleges before receiving its first initial investment of 500,000$. In 2007, Microsoft bought 1.6 percent of the company for $240 million which meant that Bill Gates valued Facebook at $15 billion! Though some analysts say this is unrealistic since Facebook has to figure out how to make money from its huge audience first.

Why are Yemenis so attracted to Facebook?

Some Yemeni Facebook users admitted that they have become practically addicted to Facebook. “At first I used to sign in every three hours, but then Facebook added that service where you can connect to it through your mobile phone and be notified with all the updates in your account,” said Nawal Al-Maghafi