Mobile-First Middle East

The Mobile-First Middle East

Laptops. Tablets. Smartphones that never leave our hands. We live in a multi-device world, and as our recent research showed, seamlessly switching between these devices is becoming standard practice in the US and the UK, and mobile phones are fast becoming the primary screen. But what about in other parts of the world?

As brands and agencies expand into high-growth markets, we decided to take a closer look at multiple device use and the role Facebook plays in the Middle East and North Africa. So we commissioned a study from global market research agency Ipsos that examined these questions in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.1 This research sheds new light on how people throughout the Middle East and North Africa are connecting today.

Mobile is king

In the three nations we surveyed, 43% of respondents reported that they used at least one other device while watching TV. In the UAE, 76% used other devices in front of the TV.

Not surprisingly, the phone is the most popular screen while watching television: 36% of TV viewers said they used their phones while watching TV, compared to 13% who used their laptops and 5% who used tablets.

Prime time is Facebook time

When it comes to what people are looking at on their phones while watching TV, the answer is often Facebook. The study found that 77% of monthly Facebook users are on the platform during traditional prime-time hours. In addition, Facebook monthly reach in the three countries is at least 1.3x higher than other major digital platforms.

Greater reach than old media

The study found that Facebook’s reach is also higher than traditional media platforms. In Egypt, for instance, Facebook reaches 1.3x more people than newspapers, in the UAE, it reaches 1.4x more people than radio, and in Saudi Arabia, Facebook reaches 1.5x more people than magazines.

Facebook is also the place where people interact with brands. Seventy-four percent of people in the UAE, 68% of people in Saudi Arabia and 49% of people in Egypt reported having interacted with brands on our platform.

Key takeaways

In high-growth markets like the three we surveyed, marketers must operate with a mobile-first mentality. Mobile has also become the screen of choice when multi-screening, and Facebook is often the mobile platform of choice. For marketers operating with a mobile-first mentality, Facebook provides consistency across devices, offering a ready-made, multi-screen platform that can help amplify your message.


Note 1: Source: “Ipsos Facebook Reach Survey” (commissioned by Facebook). Nov –Dec 2013. Survey of 1,002 in Saudi Arabia, 1,012 adults in Egypt and 1,082 adults in the UAE.
Prime-time hours defined as: Egypt 7pm– 11pm, Saudi Arabia 7pm – 12am and the United Arab Emirates 8pm– 11pm.