How Have Arabs Been Using Their Mobile Phones Throughout 2020?

Published December 3rd, 2020 - 02:30 GMT
How Have Arabs Been Using Their Mobile Phones Throughout 2020?
The Middle East and North Africa were amongst the most developing regions in terms of users growth in more than one industry. (Al Bawaba)

A recent report released by MoEngage has traced mobile phone consumer trends throughout 2020, a year ravaged by a brutal pandemic that has changed every little aspect of our lives. One of the most affected aspects is how we spend time, especially as we are largely advised to avoid direct contact with other human beings.

Even though such studies are conducted every year in efforts to learn about human activities and interests and how outside factors drive the decision-making process in different industries, 2020 gains special attention as it is a year like no other.

The study conducted by MoEngage has revealed a lot of useful information about activities most people resorted to during long homestays, especially mobile-based activities that replaced ones typically done away from technology, such as educational services, commerce, entertainment, healthcare services, and banking to name a few. Across the globe, the Middle East and North Africa were amongst the most developed regions in terms of user growth in more than one of the mentioned industries.

During the first half of 2020, most MENA-based mobile users were interested in downloading healthcare and fitness mobile apps, which is not very odd given the global pandemic’s connection to one’s health status. Similarly, online pharmacies came in second place with millions of people showing unprecedented interest in purchasing vitamins and nutritional supplements. For the third and fourth ranks, people in the MENA region clearly tried to make up for the lack of entertainment activities especially during long lockdowns, which has boosted their downloads of audio and music streaming applications. Finally, online banking and Fintech services came in fifth place in MENA.

Moreover, the report provides a detailed breakdown of how MENA mobile phones’ users have been using them through the year, which shows a greater than usual interaction with mobile apps, probably driven by having the world's largest population of young tech-savvy people. This year, in our region alone, 54.66% (Global average: 45.66%) of users downloaded fitness applications, while 41.50% (Global average: 38.99%) chose to download apps connected to online pharmacies to purchasing drugs without having to leave their houses.

E-commerce came in next with a 19.48% growth in the number of downloads (Global average: 15.09%). Video streaming apps were downloaded 19.72% more during 2020 (Global average: 16.80%).

In an attempt to make up for the lack of casual outings where people meet potential partners, dating apps were downloaded in the MENA region 19.51% more times than in 2019 (Global average: 18.24%).

Similarly, audio and music applications appealed to 17.94% more people than it did last year (Global average:13.63%).

Despite lockdowns and school closures, digital educational applications appealed to only 15.63% in the MENA region, which was the least global rate during 2020.  (Global average:34.14%).

Food delivery services came in next with a 14.66% growth rate (Global average:8.06%). Social media applications had a 10.33% increase in downloads compared to 2019 (Global average:9.72%).

The use of online banking also rose by about 13.71% in the region (Global average:9.72%).

One of the most surprising elements in the report was the 9.18% growth in interest in travel applications in the region, despite an extreme halt on travel in most Arab countries (Global average:17.25%).

Additionally, 7.71% more people downloaded video games during the first half of the year, which brought the MENA region to second place, following India. (Global average:20.28%). Mobility apps didn't seem to achieve huge popularity amid the crisis that limited people's ability to move around, as its downloads only grew by 0.19% (Global average:1.16%).

Which of these apps did you download during the year? Did you purchase a certain application during the lockdown? Which apps did you use the most during the pandemic?

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