Middle East consumers are some of the fastest adopters of smart mobile technology today. The United Arab Emirates makes no exception. Moreover, UAE smartphone penetration continues to increase with such rapid rates that it surpasses predictions for 2016.
In one of the most recent reports by Nielsen, smartphone penetration in United Arab Emirates was estimated at the impressive 78%. According to the same research, that is nearly 10% higher compared to the U.S. However, the UAE is not the top market in terms of smartphone use. In Malaysia, for example, smart mobile phone penetration is currently 80%. In Bahrain, on the other hand, the percentage will soon hit 90%. Despite that, the United Arab Emirates is the country with the fastest rising smartphone penetration. For just one year, smartphone usage rate has jumped by 16% and this is no surprise as only Dubai’s population increased by 20% in the first half of 2014.
Back in September 2013, a report by Google Inc. has found that smartphone penetration in the United Arab Emirates has reached 62%. According to the research, that was one of the highest rates in the world. In addition, researchers predicted that by 2016, the percentage of smartphone users in the UAE will reach 71%.
However, this prognosis was completely shattered during the first quarter of 2014. In March this year, eMarketer reported that smartphone penetration in the United Arab Emirates has hit 72%, which is 1% higher than the 2016 prediction.
What all three of these studies show is that it is hard to foresee the trends on the local smartphone market. Also, given that this sector is not likely to witness a slowdown on a global level over the next couple of years, it is highly likely that UAE will continue to record impressive figures on the market.
But while smartphone penetration in the United Arab Emirates is going up, business and consumers seem to struggle to make the most of this tendency. According to eMarketer, both mobile app and smartphone penetration across most countries in the Middle East is way above the global average. Yet, online mobile shopping is still maintaining rather low levels. In the UAE, mobile shopping was estimated at barely 8%.
Businesses also do not take advantage of the rise of the smartphone in the region. Very few are the companies in the UAE that rely on mobile marketing. As a result, mobile ads rate in the country is 40% lower compared to Malaysia and Singapore, for instance, reports Nielsen.
It is clear that whereas in some areas, the United Arab Emirates is among the leaders, it still has a lot of catching up to do in others. However, from Nielsen state that this gap between smartphone penetration and mobile advertising and shopping offers businesses an untapped market that is easy to take over.