01:14 GMT04 March 2021
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    The Muslim holy month is supposed to be dedicated to self-reflection, prayers and abstinence from worldly distractions and temptations, including sex. However, this time of moderation has turned into a goldmine for social media platforms and advertisers.

    The time spent on Facebook by users in the Middle East spikes by 58 million more hours during Ramadan, which is more than at any other time during the year, new stats suggest. 

    According to the Middle East’s managing director for the social network, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, people spend 5 percent more time on the platforms at this time of year, when believers are supposed to fast daily before the evening meal, as well as abstain from sex and worldly pleasures. This translates into 2 million extra hours on Facebook’s services, as well as sweeter prospects for advertisers, craving consumers’ attention, and possibly bigger revenues for the social media giant.

    “Consumption and time spent on our platforms do indeed increase….The more that they engage on our platforms, the more advertisers want to be able to reach those that are engaging. That’s what drives our revenue,” Facebook’s managing director for the Middle East and North Africa Ramez Shehadi said, as cited by Associated Press.

    Another tech tycoon which enjoys a boost during Ramadan is reportedly Google, which owns the video platform YouTube.  According to the news agency, the number of views of TV dramas and soap operas there increases by 151 percent. The tech giant has revealed that there is a 22% increase in viewership for sports videos and a 30% spike for travel clips in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt. However, users there also watch more religious videos on YouTube. 

    READ MORE: 'Dangerous Tipping Point': Riyadh to Execute Three Sunni Clerics After Ramadan

    During Ramadan, which this year lasts from 5 May to 4 June, fasting from dawn until sunset is obligatory for all Muslims, except those who are ill, travelling, elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic, chronically ill, or menstruating. Additionally, believers are urged not to have sex or engage in vain pleasures, dedicating their time to praying and contemplating. 

    social networks, Fasting, Ramadan, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Middle East
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