A personal take on recent Internet and Technology developments
from – and/or potentially impacting on - Qatar and the Middle East
Issue 2: July 2012
This digest aims to share some of the key digital developments from
across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in recent months.
It also highlights some global communications developments which may
impact on Qatar and the wider MENA region at a later date.
Visit: http://www.slideshare.net/ictQATAR/ for Volume 1 and future issues of this digest.
Stories of particular interest in this second issue include a number of reports looking at the
growth of data, smartphones and raft of new technology developments. It has also been a busy
month for Internet Governance issues, from new domain names to “take down” reports.
All content in these slides is in the public domain and referenced so that you can read the original sources.
Any omissions, errors or mistakes are mine, and mine alone.
Feedback, suggestions and comments are very welcome.
1. Developments from across the MENA region
• MENA fastest growing region for Internet traffic
• Newspaper growth slows due to online shift
• World mobile ad spend in 2011 was lowest in MENA
• In Brief: Social Media News
• In Brief: Content related news
• In Brief: Technology News
• “Peak Games” in the Spotlight
2. Wider Internet & Society Research
• Research: Smartphones seldom used for phone calls (UK)
• Youth: Impact of using mobile technology whilst driving
• Emerging Technologies: Tablet Wars – Google and Microsoft
• Internet Governance: New top-level domains, Transparency reports
3. Coming Up – three emerging issues
• Research: The future of advertising is mobile
• Technology: Wearable Computing – soon to become the norm?
• Governance: Initiatives to discuss Internet Rights and Freedoms
Images: http://bit.ly/LCN5yC and http://bit.ly/LTzNud
1. Recent developments in the MENA region
Including: Web traffic growth, News habits, Mobile Ad spend and News in Brief
• Cisco report that Global IP traffic is anticipated to increase threefold by 2016.
• The Middle East, Africa and Latin America, will lead the way in this growth.
• Traffic in the Middle East and Africa will grow at a CAGR of 57% between 2011-16.
- MENA will generate 836 million DVDs’ worth of traffic, or 3.3 exabytes per month.
• Business IP traffic will grow fastest in the Middle East and Africa.
- Anticipated CAGR of 33 %, a faster pace than the global average of 20%.
Table: Global IP Traffic, 2011-2016 Image: http://bit.ly/M9q1J7
Source: Cisco’s annual Visual Networking Index
1.1 MENA fastest growing region for Internet traffic
Above image: http://tnw.co/JZtlT3
Print is still most popular medium
for reading news in the MENA
according to new research published
by the Arab Media Forum.
1.2 Newspaper growth slows due to online shift
Migration from print to online has been slower in
the Middle East in comparison to the rest of the
world, but this may change over time.
With newspapers in the Middle East recording
the lowest circulation growth rate in the past 3
years, (as shown in the table below) this trend
may have already started.
Read the full report via: http://www.arabmediaforum.ae
1.3 Mobile ad spend in 2011 was lowest in MENA
• $5.3 billion was spent on mobile ads (from display to search to messaging) in 2011.
• The Interactive Advertising Bureau reported that spend in Asia beat the other markets.
• The Middle East and Africa had the smallest spend, at just $172m.
The market breakdown by % is:
Read more: http://read.bi/MmvVDk
North America 31.4%
Latin America 3.5%
Middle East &
• Saudi Arabia is Twitter’s fastest-growing market percentage-wise month on
• Young Emirati women started a twitter campaign called #UAEDressCode,
urging foreigners to cover up in public places: http://bbc.in/NaETEH
Image and Story: http://bit.ly/Pe9B3K
1.4 In Brief: Social Media News
• Club Penguin, Disney's virtual world for
children is launching an internet safety
campaign targeting 100m children and parents.
Disney will support the campaigns on its TV
channels, websites and magazines across the
EMEA region, as well as the site itself.
Ask.fm CEO Ilja Terebin told Techcrunch that their Q&A service
is “most prevalent in Turkey, Argentina, Russia, Saudi Arabia,
Germany, and Spain”. It’s also seeing fast growth in most of
South America and the Middle East.
MENA users sign-up to Ask.fm via Facebook or Twitter, posting and
sharing questions and answers across their social networks.
Image and Story: http://tcrn.ch/KMjjaG
• Agence France-Presse (AFP), a
French news agency founded in
1835, has launched its iPad
app in Arabic. (Same as left.)
• The app now offers 5 different
editions: English edition, Latin
America (in Spanish), Spain (in
Spanish), Brazil (in Portuguese),
and the new Arabic version.
• AFP has 16 offices in the Near
and Middle East, and describes
itself as the leading news agency
in the Arab-speaking world.
Get the app here: http://bit.ly/Nqu5yZ
1.5 In Brief: Content related news
• Owners of the new Nexus 7 Tablet can benefit from
Google Currents which aside from creating magazine-
like editions on your tablet (either by publisher, Search
trends or your Google Reader subscriptions), also has
translation tools incorporated into it.
• At launch English content was translated to Arabic. Source:
• A designer from the U.K. has
created a prayer mat that lights
up when it faces Mecca, known
as EL Sajjadah.
(“EL” stands for Electro Luminescent
and “Sajjadah” meaning prayer mat)
1.6 In Brief: Technology News
• Google announced new features to its Chrome Web Store, a store for free
and paid web-based apps and browser extensions for the Chrome browser.
This includes a section with apps that work offline to its store.
• Google also announced it is bringing the Chrome Web Store to 6 new
countries: Turkey, Ukraine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and the UAE.
• Boomerang, the scheduling software for Gmail, is now available for all
57 Gmail-supported languages, including Arabic, Persian and Urdu.
Try it here: http://www.boomeranggmail.com/
• Peak Games, a gaming company focused on Turkey and the MENA is now the
world’s No. 3 social-gaming company in terms of daily active users (DAU), with
9.4m daily players.
• Peak creates culturally-relevant social games, in contrast most big social-gaming
companies simply translate Western games into other languages.
• With c.200 employees in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, all but one of their
games are available only in Turkish and Arabic.
1.7 Peak Games in the Spotlight
• Popular games include Okey (18m
users) and Happy Farm, the world’s
No. 2 farm game, after Farmville.
“In the Turkish version, the farmer is not
covered, while in our Arabic version there
is a Saudi man with a cultural outfit.”
“We don’t have cowboys or American horses.”
Rina Onur, Chief Strategy Officer
Image: http://bit.ly/Ma2JRP“Peak has no plans to make its locally targeted games available in
English, as they don’t hold the same relevance for Western cultures.”
2. Internet & Society: External Research Update
Images: http://bit.ly/KXUeK6 and http://bit.ly/KL2OMQ
Smartphones, texting whilst driving, tablet wars and new top level domain names
2.1 Internet & Society: Societal Impact
UK: Smartphones seldom used for phone calls
The UK’s largest mobile
operator O2 published
research which shows
that making calls is
only the fifth most
popular reason for
using a smartphone.
spends more than two
hours each day using
the device, with more
time spent surfing the
web, checking social
networks or playing
games than making
2.2 Internet & Society: Youth
• Research from the US shows the
impact of people using mobile
technology whilst driving – a
problem familiar to us in Qatar and
• 13% of drivers aged 18-20 in
crashes admitted to using their
phone at the time of the crash.
• Many cite the behavior of adults
doing this as a reason for this being
acceptable – and safe.
The law aside, potential solutions introduced in the US include:
2.3 Internet & Society: Emerging Technologies
Tablet Wars – Google enters the fray, as do Microsoft
• Google announced its first tablet, the Nexus 7, a 7-inch tablet priced at $199 for 8GB of
storage and $249 for 16GB. It was developed in partnership with Taiwanese firm Asus.
• PC World noted that Amazon, Lenovo, Research In Motion and Barnes
& Noble also offer $199 tablets.
“At only $200, the Nexus 7 is a steal.” http://reviews.cnet.com/google-nexus-7/
“It's elegant, it's easy to use, and it's hands down the best tablet in its sub-$200 class.
But that alone won't be enough to launch Google past Apple, or even Amazon, in the tablet space”
Images: http://bit.ly/LmMOBo and http://bit.ly/MCCJxs
Bloomberg report that Apple plans to debut a cheaper, smaller (7-inch)
iPad by the end of the year. See: http://bloom.bg/LkKV8h
• Microsoft have unveiled “Surface” a new Windows 8
based tablet with a built-in stand and keyboard built
into the screen cover.
Launch date and price are still to be confirmed.
2.4 Internet & Society: Internet Governance
• ICANN, the non-profit that oversees the Internet domain address system announced
the full list of submissions for new internet address endings, which included .doha
• Currently, there are 22 global top-level domains (gTLDs) such as .com, .net, .co, or .org
• This figure will quickly change, with ICANN receiving over 1,900 applications for 1,409
new domain suffixes such as .google, .news, and .blog.
View the full list: http://bit.ly/L4MYed
• Google published its latest Transparency Report which includes numbers of removal
requests received from copyright owners or governments as well as user data requests
from government agencies and courts. Dorothy Chou, Senior Policy Analyst at Google
commenting on the increased number of requests for content to be removed wrote:
“It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from
countries you might not suspect—Western democracies not typically associated with censorship.”
• Twitter has also published its first transparency report, receiving 3,378 "takedown"
notices so far this year. The network removed 38% of the requested tweets.
Images: http://bit.ly/Nllsre, http://wapo.st/LxfiDT and http://bit.ly/KZQ58h
3. Coming Up – three emerging themes
Internet Rights & FreedomsMobile advertising Wearable Computing
The future of advertising is mobile
• Writing in The Atlantic, Derek Thompson noted that US audiences:
“…Spend more time engaging with mobile devices than reading print.
But print publications still get 25-times more ad money than mobile…
There is still a huge gap between the rapid adoption of mobile and the budgets assigned to it.”
But he thinks this will change.
“Imagine a world in the next 2-3 years,
where smart phones
are in the hands of every consumer and
tablet sales will exceed PCs.
It will be a world where global internet
users will double, led by mobile usage.
At that time, mobile will no longer be a
support medium, it will be THE medium.”
3.1 Internet & Society: Societal Impact
3.2 Internet & Society: Emerging Technologies
Wearable Computing – soon to become the norm?
• At their I/O Conference Google announced Project Glass,
Internet-connected glasses which will be available to the public
from 2014. If you can’t wait until then, I/O attendees can buy a
$1,500 “explorer’s version,” which will ship next year.
• The glasses contain a camera to collect photographs or video, as
well as a number of tools needed to determine location and
direction. It also has microphones for collecting sound, a speaker
to relay audio and uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
• Product manager Steve Lee told Wired that they weighed about
the same as a pair of sunglasses and gave examples of how he
had used the product whilst cycling to capture content to share
with friends and to receive SMS messages.
See a 2’30” demo:
And the live “skydiving
demo” launch here:
Wired: Do you think this kind of technology will eventually be as
common as smart phones are now?
Lee: Yes. It’s my expectation that in three to five years it will
actually look unusual and awkward when we view
someone holding an object in their hand and looking
down at it. Wearable computing will become the norm
3.3 Internet Governance: new initiatives to discuss
Internet Rights and Freedoms
American Congressman Darrell Issa has published a Digital Citizen's Bill of Rights asking
for people to “comment, criticize and collaborate” in refining the draft (published below).
1. Freedom - digital citizens have a right to a free, uncensored internet
2. Openness - digital citizens have a right to an open, unobstructed internet
3. Equality - all digital citizens are created equal on the internet
4. Participation - digital citizens have a right to peaceably participate where and how
they choose on the internet
5. Creativity - digital citizens have a right to create, grow and collaborate on the internet,
and be held accountable for what they create
6. Sharing - digital citizens have a right to freely share their ideas, lawful discoveries and
opinions on the internet
7. Accessibility - digital citizens have a right to access the internet equally, regardless of
who they are or where they are
8. Association - digital citizens have a right to freely associate on the internet
9. Privacy - digital citizens have a right to privacy on the internet
10.Property - digital citizens have a right to benefit from what they create, and be secure
in their intellectual property on the internet
Elsewhere, organizations and individuals are
being asked to sign up to – and discuss – a
Declaration of Internet Freedom.
“We believe that a free and open Internet can
bring about a better world. To keep the Internet
free and open, we call on communities,
industries and countries to recognize these
principles. We believe that they will help to
bring about more creativity, more innovation
and more open societies…
Let’s discuss these principles — agree or
disagree with them, debate them, translate
them, make them your own and broaden the
discussion with your community — as only the
Internet can make possible.”
Images: http://bit.ly/Nia0gf and http://bit.ly/Mw3vtM
Thank you for reading.
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Disclaimer: all content in these slides is in the public domain and referenced so that you can read the original
sources. Any omissions, errors or mistakes are mine, and mine alone.