With mobile subscriptions in the Middle East expected to exceed 250 million this year, more content needs to be developed for mobile users in the region, considered one of the hottest telecom markets in the world, according to a recent report by Informa Telecoms and Media. The report, which covered Jordan, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the UAE and Yemen, indicated that the Middle East will see massive growth in the number of mobile subscriptions over the next few years. "The number of mobile users in the Middle East will reach over 350 million by end of 2016," indicated the report, posted on Informa's blog.
Average mobile phone penetration in the region is estimated to exceed 100 percent in 2012, thereby exceeding the North America market for the first time, according to the report by Informa, a provider of market intelligence for the global telecom and entertainment industries. In Jordan, there were 7.482 million mobile subscriptions by the end of 2011, with mobile penetration reaching 120 percent, according to figures posted on the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission website. Noting that Second Generation (2G) services will still be going strong in the Middle East over the next four years, the Informa report indicated that most countries in the region will see a rise in 3G connections during this period. "It is, of course, early days yet for 4G in all of the Middle East, with only a few countries having active implementation," the report said, predicting that Saudi Arabia will be the leading 4G market in the region with just over 11 million 4G subscriptions by 2016, with the UAE expected to come in second place in terms of 4G usage.
In another recent report, Informa indicated that the Middle East and North Africa region is considered a rapidly growing market for online and mobile content, as the number of mobile and Internet users is on the rise. Fixed broadband subscriptions in the MENA region grew by about 160 percent in a three-year period ending in June 2011, while the number of mobile broadband subscriptions increased from 919,000 in first quarter of 2008 to 6.9 million in first quarter of 2011.
The report said there are barriers that must be overcome in the Middle East, because the telecom industry’s best prospects for growth now lie in data rather than voice services, adding that international companies are interested in investing in the region's mobile and content sectors. “Localisation and Arabicisation are essential if international players are to reach a mass market in the Middle East," Dubai-based consultant for Informa and co-author of the report, Reda Haidar, said in the report.