Video game, e-commerce markets grow across MENA

Growing faster than the global average

ABU DHABI - Video game and e-commerce markets are growing exponentially across the Middle East and North Africa, driven by the mobile revolution and new youth-produced content, according to a study.
The gaming market is expected to nearly triple in size, from $1.6 billion (1.3 billion euros) in 2014 to $4.4 billion (3.5 billion euros) in 2022, said the study conducted by consulting firm Strategy& and the Abu Dhabi media regulatory body twofour54.
"Gaming in the region is growing faster than the global average, exceeding even other fast-growing emerging markets such as Russia, China and South Korea," Strategy& partner Jayant Bhargava said.
So far global games from international developers have captured about 90 percent of the regional market.
But games tailored for local users are expected to increase and capture more than 15 percent of the market within three to five years.
"Accelerated adoption of mobile technology, evolutions in paid and digital media and a new wave of unique youth-produced content will be key factors in driving media growth in the region," it said.
E-commerce will be a "critical source of digital growth," according to the study, estimating that the $2.3 billion market would grow by 13 percent each year up to 2019.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are expected to maintain their combined share of almost 40 percent of the total market up to 2020, said the study, published on the sidelines of a media summit that opened Tuesday in Abu Dhabi.
The regional audio-visual content market is also undergoing significant changes, led by the transition to paid television.
The study estimates that pay TV will grow by 10.3 percent a year, compared with 7.8 percent for ad-based TV.
However, satellite TV dominates the sector, accounting for more than 95 percent of TV distribution.
Meanwhile, Facebook vice president for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa Nicola Mendelsohn said the number of active monthly users of the social network in the Arab world has reached 74 million, with 80 percent of them connecting from their smart phones.
That is an increase from 56 million active users in October 2013.
Activists in several Arab world countries have used Facebook and other social networking sites as a speedy, anonymous and efficient engine to organise protests and campaigns that swept the region in 2011.