Online: Switch on to a broadband audience

  • MENA Internet usage is growing at a compounded 40% per year with 100 million Arabs online
  • In terms of Facebook penetration, the UAE leads the GCC and MENA regions, with 46% as of February 2016
  • The UAE’s e-commerce industry is experiencing record growth and is set to expand from its current value of US$2.5 billion (AED9.2 billion) to US$10 billion by 2018
  • Digital marketing in MENA is experiencing tremendous growth, according to the E-consultancy report, which has found that 58% of marketers are increasing their digital marketing budgets in 2015.
  • The UAE comes in second in the GCC for active Twitter users, with 1 million as of June 2015.
  • Advertising spend in the UAE was $742.4 million in 2010. Ad spending for digital media in the UAE reached $52.2 million, during the same period.
  • The digital media has undergone dramatic growth over the past several years. In 2009 it accounted for $14.6 million or around 2%, of total ad spending.
  • There is an annual growth rate of 31.6% between 2011 and 2015, making digital media the fastest-growing segment within the UAE’s media sector, according to the DPC.
  • Despite being the seventh-most-spoken language, Arabic only makes up around 3% of all online content which grown from an estimated 0.2% of total online content in 2008, according to the 2013 Arab social Media Report.
  • The majority of websites accessed within the UAE are in English, with respondents reporting that they spent 58% of their time online on English-language sites, 37% on Arabic-language sites and 6% on other language sites.
  • In 2013, the DPC reports that almost 32% of time online is now spent on social networking sites, compare to 24% in 2009.

With the MENA region’s internet usage growing at a compounded 39% year on year and the UAE close to becoming the first country in the world with 100% broadband. Isn’t it time you tapped into the 100 million Arabs already online and waiting for your content? With only 3% of the world’s content in Arabic, the demand for tailored content is higher than ever and growing all the time.

The UAE ranked 2nd among Arab states and 25th overall out of the 142 countries included in the World Economic Forum’s ‘Networked Readiness Index 2012- 13’, demonstrating that it is well placed to exploit the opportunities offered by the digital age and is among the world’s leading nations in terms of its ability to leverage ICT to boost competitiveness and development.

As 60% of the Middle East’s population is under 29, we believe that there is unmet demand in the region. Opportunities have been identified in Arabic online content in particular, which accounts for just 3% of all global online content despite being the world’s seventh-most-spoken language.

Internet penetration in the UAE is on par with many developed markets in the West, and digital advertising is taking a growing proportion of the advertising pie. The Middle East as a whole is behind when it comes to advertising campaigns migrating to digital platforms, however, with digital advertising accounting for only 6% of all advertising spend compared to 36% in the UK, for example, according to figures from Deloitte. According to the International Telecommunications Union, as of 2012, 85% of individuals in the UAE were using the internet. This places the UAE towards the top of the GCC region, followed by Kuwait (79.18%), Oman (60%) and Saudi Arabia (54%). In the “ICT in the UAE – Household Survey 2012” the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), the UAE’s sector regulator, put the percentage of households with an internet connection at 72% overall, with this number rising to 84% among UAE nationals. Of those aged 15-74, 85% of UAE residents reported using the internet in the last three months. Meanwhile, DPC figures suggest that 73% of the population owns a smart- phone or tablet, and that of this demographic, more than 75% have downloaded applications.

Use of social media and social networking sites in the UAE is among the highest in the Arab world, according to the “2013 Arab Social Media Report” produced by the Dubai School of Government. In terms of Facebook penetration, the UAE leads the GCC and MENA regions, with 41.66% as of May 2013. The UAE comes in second in the GCC for active Twitter users, with 401,000 as of March 2013, topped by Saudi Arabia with 1.9m (and a much larger overall population). Visiting social networking sites was the second-most-common online activity cited in the TRA’s “ICT in the UAE – Household Survey 2012”, with 83% of respondents reporting using them in the past three months, just behind those who said they had sent or received email (88%). In addition, among those who use social networking sites, usage is quite high, with 52% accessing them daily and 26% every other day, according to the TRA survey.