MENA Hungry for Mobile Apps - ArabNet App Trends Report

Alexis Baghdadi, Oct 26 2015

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The volume of mobile apps in the MENA is rapidly rising thanks to the increase in mobile broadband penetration and app usage.

In an effort to present its readers and community of app publishers, developers, agencies, and investors with a clearer picture of the app economy, ArabNet has launched the ArabNet Business Intelligence initiative.

The 6th ArabNet Quarterly magazine saw the unveiling of ArabNet Business Intelligence and the publication of its first report: Top App Trends Dominating MENA in 2015.

MENA - A Favorable Ground for Apps

High income levels and a large expat population put Gulf countries in the lead when it comes to mobile broadband penetration. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates both boast a penetration of over 100%, according to the 2015 Digital, Social & Mobile Worldwide report. Neighboring MENA countries are also catching up with this trend.

The State of Mobile Advertising - 2015 Q2 report by Opera Mediaworks found that mobile apps are increasingly responsible for the majority share of global traffic and revenue generation. According to the Insights App Engagement report (Q1 2015) by App Annie, revenue from app stores and in-­app advertising grew by 70% in 2014, compared to the previous year.

Together, the Middle East and Africa account for 10% of global mobile app traffic and revenue generation at Q2 2015 (up from 6% in 2014). According to Opera Mediaworks. Egypt also joined the top 25 countries in that respect (ranking at number 22).

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ArabNet Business Intelligence on App Behaviors in the MENA

The findings in the Top App Trends Dominating MENA in 2015 report were based on a survey by ArabNet Business Intelligence, in collaboration with On Device Research.

The survey sought to outline the behaviors, trends, and opportunities in the MENA app space. It covered 500 smartphone users in each of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

The aim of the report was to better understand the rapid growth in the MENA app economy. It is one of the most comprehensive app behavior reports in the top Middle Eastern markets.

Below are the main findings of the survey in terms of App Download, Usage, and Discovery.

1. Half of MENA mobile users are frequent app downloaders

The survey showed that there is considerable demand for mobile apps in the MENA. Almost half (42%) of the respondents had downloaded more than 5 mobile apps in April 2015. These “frequent downloaders” are smartphone users who actively look out for new apps to download and engage with.

The UAE (dominated by Arab expats and westerners) had the most downloaded apps, followed by Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.


The survey also found that lower income categories download more apps in general than higher income ones.

2. MENA app users are loyal and repetitive

More significantly, statistics showed that MENA users are also loyal, repetitive users. A quarter of respondents said they used all the apps on their smartphone on a daily basis, and another quarter said they used their favorites every day and the rest once a week. These results were consistent across all 5 surveyed countries.


3. MENA app downloaders find apps randomly or through friends’ recommendations

Developers should focus on generating positive word-of-mouth, a buzz, and good reviews for their apps. If the app has its place on users' favorites list, it will be used on a daily basis. Moreover, if the app hits the bestseller or featured list on the App store, it is more likely to be discovered by users. Friends’ recommendations also play an important role in influencing what users choose to download.


To read the full report, go to 


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