By ADAM SCHRECK, AP Business Writer www.timesunion.com
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Facebook Inc. launched its first office in the Arab world Wednesday, aiming to drum up new advertising business from Dubai as investors fret over its struggling share price.
The online meet-up site and other social networking tools were instrumental in connecting activists during the wave of protests and revolutions that reverberated across the region last year.
But Joanna Shields, Facebook’s vice president and managing director for Europe, the Mideast and Africa, said the decision to lay down roots in the region was purely commercial.
“People on Facebook … use it to organize rallies for all kinds of elections around the world,” she said. “We’re humbled by that and we are happy that we can facilitate. But we always downplay the (site’s) role because it’s really the people there who came together and did what they did.”
The office is starting with three employees in Dubai’s Internet City, a business park popular with tech firms including Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc.
Facebook’s website lists some 30 offices globally.
The aim is to attract more ad sales by targeting the 45 million users that Facebook says it has across the Middle East and North Africa. More info