We want to give you:
• A better idea of the region from a digital perspective
with a round of up of current trends and behaviours.
• T help you understand how you can improve your
online oﬀering to truly appeal and engage your
Q. Which country in the region has
the highest Internet penetration
The highest penetration rate in the region can be found
in the United Arab Emirates with 75%, followed by:
Kuwait – 64%
Qatar – 61%
The lowest are in Egypt (26%), Morocco (35%) or Iraq
Q. What percentage of the Middle
East’s population is currently using
In the Middle East there are around 110 million Internet
users, which is 40.2% of the total population.
Such is the importance of the Internet in the daily lives
of the region’s residents that it overtakes television and
other traditional forms of media.
80% of consumers in the region would rather live
without a television than live without the internet.
Q. What percentage of web content
is currently available in Arabic?
Research proves that Arabic speakers prefer to use
Arabic keywords when starting a search for local
products and services.
It’s crucial for them to see relevant search results in
Arabic but with only 2% of content available in their
language the user journey is often a disappointing one.
Q. How digitally social is the Middle
East internet user?
Quick answer - very.
As of 2012, social media penetration is the highest
among internet users worldwide with 70.2%.
For 2013, it is predicted that the Middle East will have 71
million social network users.
Q. Which country in the region has
the highest amount of Smartphone
Saudi Arabia currently leads the Middle East by
smartphone penetration level, achieving a level of
63%, and is closely followed by the UAE with 61%.
In real terms this means that over half the total
population of these two countries are connected to a
Q. With such a high amount of web
users, how many Middle East
businesses are currently online?
15% of businesses in the region have an online presence.
Why is this when the estimated number of internet
users in the region/business reach is 90 million?
Q. What age is the average online
shopper in the Middle East?
The highest proportions rest in the 35 and up age range
– closely followed by the 26-35 age group.
Men are more likely that women – 46% compared to
B2C eCommerce sales in the region are predicted to
reach an estimated $15 billion in 2015.
Q. What is the biggest barrier to
shopping online in the Middle East?
The risk of credit card fraud, closely followed by the fact
that over 1/3 of people are worried about not being
able to return/exchange a product.
Q. Do Middle East based consumers
prefer regional or global brands?
The quick answer?
Although Middle East consumers are warming up to
the idea of eCommerce, they still prefer locally focused
sites over the regular international giants.
In Saudi Arabia, the top four eCommerce sites are all
local providers; Souq, Sukar, Namshi and Markavip.
In the UAE, Amazon makes it to third place in the top
four (11%); trailing behind local oﬀerings Souq (20%)
and Cobone (13%), but coming ahead of Markavip (9%)
And it’s all very interesting stuﬀ. No doubt. But if you
notice these stats very much group the region as
They are general.
And this is the regional challenge.
They are plenty of stats out there to tell us what the
Internet penetration rates are or how many people own
a phone but there is a real lack of information on
A further challenge is that this is not a region made up
of one type of person.
There are huge variations in demographics.
So when it comes to designing for your business we
need to be much more speciﬁc about target audience
and their actual behaviours.
You can’t design for the region. You have to design for
Some organisations are well aware
of this and have tested and adapted
an oﬀering to work for their target
The end result of being able to craft interfaces to meet
your end user?
Being better able to deliver speciﬁc messages to
speciﬁc types of people.
Moving from just selling to conversing
• Ex-DigitasLBi Belgium
• Social addict
• 5 years professionally
& Brand Advocate for my clients ;-)
Social usage is growing fast in MENA
More than 50% of all social traﬃc and activity
in the GCC comes from Mobile Phones.
58M GCC users
Drivers to eCom
~10M GCC users
Who is using social media?
Approximately 41% of the total MENA
population has internet access
88% of the MENA online population use
social media sites regularly
80% of GCC
16 - 17
18 - 24
25 - 34
35 - 44
Avg. age of a social media
users in MENA
What do they do?
The average person in MENA
“LIKES” 5 brands on Facebook.
These are the reasons why:
From brands I “LIKE”, I will engage with the
following content types:
I am registered and I contribute
more than once a week to:
“I want to be
ﬁrst to know
about the new
Of people who are online:
ª 85% have at least 1 social media account
“I want the
ª 61% have 2+ accounts
ª 60% visit a social network daily
“I like to read
ª 34% are very active and post often
ª 41% search in both Arabic and English
ª 21% post to social in both languages
Average time spent on Social Media
KEY FINDINGS: Facebook
A traditional audience will not post photos of themselves.
This is changing with some
audiences now willing to engage.
These audiences will often also
comment in both English & Arabic
and sometimes uses Arabizi.
Arab expats are often bi-lingual
or even trilingual. Photos of
new purchases or looks they
are proud of are common
KEY FINDINGS: Instagram
Kuwait has been tagged in over 9 Million photos. More than the USA with only 7.7 Million.
Dubai has about 6 Million tags. This indicates a very high degree of usage of this platform in
the Middle East.
KEY FINDINGS: Instagram
‘Pinkfudgegirls’ are two BFF's who sell authentic High-End designer pieces via Instagram.
KEY FINDINGS: Twitter
Twitter is the fastest growing Social
Network in the MENA region.
The estimated number of tweets
produced by Twitter users in the Arab
world in March 2013 was 335,792,000
tweets or 10,832,000 tweets per day.
76% of all tweets in the MENA region
are in Arabic.
21% of tweets in ‘Arabizi’
#hashtags will be in both Arabic and
English regardless of the language used
for body text.
Customer listening & engagement journey
• Dabbling in social
• Customer understanding
occurs via focus groups,
quantitative surveys, or
• No concerted eﬀort
around social listening;
possible skepticism about
• Initial understanding of
• Perceive potential
beneﬁts of listening
• Still disconnected to
• Share learnings/insights
• Key players/responders
identiﬁed (i.e. product,
• Develop initial response
process & start engaging
• Listening becomes more
embedded in business
• Executive sponsorship
• Social listening and
engagement drives real
• Cross-functional teams
partner to listen, engage,
take consistent and timely
action, and make changes
based on insight
• Listening data matched
with traditional data to
provide real-time overall
health of the brand
A model of current human behaviour that is:
Derived from contextual research data
Described as if it were a real person
Used to promote shared understanding
Used in stories to envision the future
Think of it like this:
If I was to describe myself as a type for an e-commerce
proposition would it be..?
Household income of $xxx
It would be more along the lines of the following:
• Being able to ﬁnd a great deal
• Getting access to exclusive products
• Search according to speciﬁc designers
• Seeing what’s new
• White female
• University educated
• Sites that don’t allow her to ﬁlter results
• Being forced to register for an account before
It’s about understanding needs and
behaviours in order to design
something that is going to engage
Let’s imagine that Dubizzle are redesigning their
They need to research with target users to
understand the needs and wants their audience
has so that they can craft a new design that will
really work and engage.
Work with the person sitting next to you – assuming they
fall into the target audience – and each take turns to act
as participant and researcher.
Each write down and ask the type of questions that you
think would be important to ask when trying to conduct
Then once you have each written your list, work together
to formulate a ﬁnal question list that you think would
allow Dubizzle to get to the heart of their user’s needs.
You have 10 minutes
You have 10 minutes to discuss.
Good questions to ask would include:
What does a day in their life look like?
What are their pain points?
What do they value the most?
What are their goals?
Where do they go for information?
What other sites of a similar nature do they use and why?
What kind of experiences are they looking for?
What are their common objections to Dubizzle?
At DigitasLBi we spend a signiﬁcant amount of our
time going direct to the user and wading in with them
in their online experiences and behavior to allow our
clients to make well-informed decisions.
It’s the right thing to do and you will beneﬁt in the long
The insights gained from following
this process will give you…