**First **** LinkedIn **MENA office opens in UAE

Exciting news for the Middle Eastern business world this week as LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network with more than 175 million members worldwide, announced the opening of its first office in the Middle East and North Africa. Located in Dubai’s Internet City, the office will serve as regional headquarters to over five million members in the Middle East and North Africa, one million of which are based in the UAE, where a team of approximately half a dozen will support the growing membership and client base.

Speaking at the local launch of LinkedIn, Fadi Salem, Director, Governance and Innovation Program, Dubai School of Government, “Our research in the Arab Social Media Report series shows that the MENA region has witnessed exponential growth in social media usage, with usage trends shifting from primarily fulfilling social needs back in 2010 to political and societal usage in 2011.”

In other news, LinkedIn announced that it is rolling out its recently revamped brand pages to all companies on the social network. The pages are designed to ramp up engagement between job hunters and businesses on the social network with features including a larger cover photo, and prominently displayed company updates.

Along with this, LinkedIn has also updated its news feed with the addition of a list of the networks top 150 super influencers who fans can follow. Influencers include President Obama, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, physician/writer Deepak Chopra, Virgin founder/CEO Richard Branson, and motivational speaker Tony Robbins, amongst others.

Read more about the Dubai office launch here.

Learn more LinkedIn follow feature here.

Presidential Debate Most-Tweeted Event in U.S. Political History

With the race for the US Presidency hotting up by the day, Wednesday night’s U.S. presidential debate in Denver has hit the record for being the most-tweeted-about event in American political history. In total, the debate between President Obama, and Presidency candidate Mitt Romney received an astonishing 10.3 million tweets in 90 minutes

[created by @gov - the Twitter feed for the microblogging service’s government and politics team]

Kellogg’s opens a Tweet shop in London

In one of the coolest social media campaigns the Arabian Bytes team has seen in a while, Kellogg’s this week set up a pop-up “Tweet shop” in London to promote their new Special K Cracker Crisps. Seeking tweets with the Twitter hashtag #tweetshop, Tweeters in return were awarded a box of the new Cracker Crisps to sample – a novel way of using Tweets as a form of currency.

Sarah Case, brand manager for Special K, stated, “The value of positive endorsements on social-media sites is beyond compare, so we’re excited to be the first company to literally use social currency instead of financial currency to launch this new product in our bespoke Special K shop.”

[Image source: The Brand Channel]

In other news…

Facebook officially passes 1 billion monthly active users

As expected, Facebook today announced it has passed the 1 billion user milestone. This makes Facebook the first social network to reach the 10-figure mark; one out of every seven individuals on the planet now use the service.

Social media key to Arab youth empowerment: report

The Governance and Innovation Programme of the Dubai School of Government (DSG), under the patronage of His Excellency Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, UAE Minister of Labour, today announced the findings of an eight-nation survey on shifting attitudes towards social media in the Arab world. Read more

Tweets of the week…

#TEDxSharjah (in the past week, there were 1,896 tweets in UAE in both EN & AR) – due to the first Sharjah TEDx that took place earlier in the week, tweeters and participants picked up the news, exchanged knowledge and ideas as a number of renowned scholars, researchers, investors and intellectuals shared their expertise, innovation, creativity and scientific vision. More HERE

#GITEXShopper (in the past week, there were 536 tweets in UAE in both EN & AR) – GITEX Shopper, the biggest electronics retail show in town kicked off earlier this week and there have been a lot of online conversation around deals, promotions, latest technologies and offers by brands. More HERE

#WT20 (in the past week, there were 3,616 tweets in UAE in both EN & AR) – The official hashtag for the most socially-networked event in history of game “The ICC World Twenty20 Sri Lanka 2012”, wt20 remained a trending topic for the third week. More HERE