Mobile: The ubiquity of mobile

  • 91% of the population owns a smartphone or a tablet, and of this demographic more than 75% download applications.
  • Market research across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco reveals that 80% of mobile phone users prefer using content in Arabic, with only 20% favoring English.
  • UAE mobile penetration is 190% and quickly approaching 200% with 17 million mobile connections.
  • UAE is close to being the first country in the world with 100% broadband. Currently 92%. Average daily use of the Internet via mobile phone is 3 hours and 37 minutes.

The mobile market is one of the fastest-growing media segments in the Middle East . Smartphone penetration in Saudi Arabia and the UAE has surpassed 75 percent of the population, with more than 55 percent of users accessing the Internet every day on a smartphone. More important, perhaps, the number of mobile broadband users already exceeds the number of fixed broadband users in the region. Particularly for those who are growing up with mobile media, this has long-term implications for consumption habits.

Already, consumers are more likely to play games and access social networks on a mobile device than a laptop or desktop computer. For other media activities, such as accessing news or browsing websites, levels of usage on smartphones are also fast approaching those on laptops or desktop computers. Finally, uptake of video consumption on mobile has been prolific. With the regional apps market geared toward games and productivity/utility apps (such as Google Docs and Dropbox), we can expect a broader range of activities to take place on this platform.

Media players operating in the region should make mobile an integral part of their strategy and accelerate the development of mobile-centric propositions. At the same time, marketers should consider integrating mobile into their advertising campaigns to enhance effectiveness, reach, and engagement.

Mobile subscriptions in the UAE continue to grow, rising from 11.7m in 2011, to 13.8m in 2012, and then to 15.7m in October 2013, according to the TRA. 73% of the population owns a smartphone or tablet, and that of this demographic, more than 75% have downloaded applications. TRA surveys reveal that 45% of all internet users in the UAE access the internet via their mobile phones. In 2011 Etisalat began offering a 4G mobile broadband service, having invested Dh6bn ($1.6bn) to upgrade its 4G network, which is currently available in more than 80% of the UAE, while du announced in March 2012 that it was to partner with Cisco to develop its own LTE network, and started offering 4G services in June of that year.

Abu Dhabi is also investing in bringing new technology into classrooms. By 2013, ADEC had provided over 50,000 digital elements (including stories and resources), in addition to textbooks that can be accessed electronically, to the primary school teachers using the new school model.

The mobile potential in this market is one of the biggest in the world, and waiting for you to fulfil it.