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