More Arabic Websites From The Gulf, But Few Visitors?

| Apr 5, 2009 | comment 7 Comments

Arabic websites based in the Gulf are increasing in number but the locals are not using them much, according to experts discussing “Investing in Future Media” at the TMT Finance and Investment 2009 forum that was recently held at Sharq Village hotel in Doha, Qatar.

The opening presentation at the forum expressed concern over the fact that although the number of Arabic websites was increasing, these were rarely visited by those who know the language because they were not satisfied with the contents of the sites.

“This is still an open question,” said Mohamad Murrad, Principal, Vice President and Partner of Booz & Company, when asked if Arabic websites from the region can compete successfully with English websites.

Based on the study explained in the presentation, although there are now more Arabic websites in the region than before, their number is still small compared to that of English websites. Another fact is that most people in the Gulf access the popular sites such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo.

The same study highlighted the growth of the mobile platform, on which it is believed Arabic content can get a market share since 99 percent of the sales in the telecommunications industry are derived from it.

Mobile content is already on the rise and has high penetration in the region but the online network infrastructure for Arabic is still very limited, the study disclosed. It said SMS/MMS-based advertising offerings, although still small, showed strong growth.

Online ads are not very effective in the region, fetching just $2 per user, which is way behind the worldwide average of $27 per user and $59 per user in the United States. “The problem with online ads is very much skeptical, that is how to reach and capture the audience,” said one of the speakers.

[Source: The Peninsula]

  • http://www.wikeez.com Delphine

    dear Mohamed,

    I do not completely agree with their conclusions, although it is great news that local sites are increasing …
    Arabic sites until now are mostly based on forums or news agregation which are in arabic but not creating any added value.

    At Wikeez.com – our 2 month old website focused on middle east entertainment – our first figures showed an 300% increase in our pages views in only one month, and without advertising it yet. Users are from KSA, UAE and Egypt.
    Our content is done by a team of dedicated journalists, we create our own content and I think it's the way arabic sites should be working.

    We should get the “locals” what they are looking for : arabic content, original and adapted to their specific needs. I really hope the arabic editorial sites will keep growing, as the quality of our contents will help us all get more advertisers online !

    Thanks
    Delphine

  • http://www.startuparabia.com Mohamed Marwen Meddah

    I agree with your point about the need to have more content sites providing Arabic content for the local audience's needs; and I'm positive that they would get they visitors they want and more.

    I think the people at the event were mainly thinking of online services that were trying to replicate the success of their western counterparts here in the Arab world by just launching an Arabic version with no added value; making the point that users were still going to the facebooks, youtubes, flickrs of the world instead of adopting these new sites just because they had Arabic in them.
    That too is a point I agree with; just translating something into Arabic and launching it as a service is certainly not enough for it to succeed.

    So the key is more original Arabic content, more localization and customization with an original touch inspired by the local culture and needs, and surely staying the course.

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  • http://www.al-hakawati.net/ nadia

    I encourage you all to check out this excellent website about Arab culture. It includes refence books, biographies of important Arab personalities, the environment, architecture, and much more: http://www.al-hakawati.net

    An excellent, unique resource online!!

  • http://www.al-hakawati.net/ nadia

    I encourage you all to check out this excellent website about Arab culture. It includes refence books, biographies of important Arab personalities, the environment, architecture, and much more: http://www.al-hakawati.net

    An excellent, unique resource online!!

  • Anonymous

    Please let me suggest: http://www.newspaperindex.com/ar/

  • slickandbubbas

    How many Arabic language websites are there worldwide? I heard it was less than 1 million. Can you verify?

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