More Than Mirage: The Middle East’s Burgeoning Tech Scene

The Middle East and Northern Africa are routinely mentioned as untapped markets ripe for online growth. The Arab Spring was especially important for highlighting the large numbers of tech savvy youths who see the Internet and social media as powerful tools that can be harnessed to affect powerful change.

What’s even more interesting is that the region’s great innovators are not the Googles or the Facebooks. Instead, scores of domestic entrepreneurs are rising to the challenge to deliver services aimed at a Middle Eastern audience that is predominantly young and whose lives have been directly affected by the changes wrought by technology, politics, and tradition.

Media companies and advertisers are also taking notice. The more time that Internet users in the Middle East spend on social media sites, the more opportunities there are for advertisers to target them with banner ads and online campaigns. Almost 60% of firms throughout the globe have some sort of social media presence, a number that is forecast to rise as more and more users log on and share their experiences with friends as well as strangers online.

Digital marketing especially is a new phenomenon for many firms across the Middle East. But despite the opportunity for growth, only 4% of all advertising in the Middle East goes to digital campaigns. That is quickly changing, which means many traditional companies are positioning themselves to take advantage of the personal connection that social media users in the Middle East have with their online community.

For a long time, the Middle East lacked the infrastructure for tech firms to thrive. That is all changing, and the excitement is palpable in the major tech conventions and start-up hubs that are popping up in nearly every country in the region. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that such an untapped market promises plenty potential for a handsome profit—after all, money rarely needs a translator.