The Middle Eastern technology market is growing rapidly, and there is now a significant risk that demand will soon begin to outpace supply. The e-commerce market in the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is set to be worth 15 billion USD. Homegrown e-commerce enterprises like Souq.com have already caught the attention of massive global players, managing to raise 275 million USD from multiple investors, including Tiger Global Management and Standard Chartered Equity.
In a market characterized by a population that is young, tech-savvy and hyper-connected, technology vendors and IT solution providers are seeing healthy profit margins. The opportunities for growth and expansion are near-limitless – but they do come at a cost. Like any growth market, the Middle East is a region where geopolitical tension and instability pose a potential threat to any new business.
The rules and regulations governing entrepreneurship or expansion into the regional market can often be opaque and complex. Language barriers can present an issue even in markets where English is widely spoken, like the United Arab Emirates. And cultivating a thorough understanding of “the average Middle Eastern consumer”, if there is such a thing, is no mean feat. It can require months or even years of research.
These challenges – bureaucracy, language barriers, and the difficulty of defining a target audience – are in no way unique to the Middle East. They crop up just as easily in other growth markets, including China and India. Global tech companies are still able to operate in these countries, but only as the result of careful, focused planning and the support of a team on the ground with the network and experience required to keep the market access effort running smoothly.
The rapidly changing nature of the technology market as a whole – particularly in growth markets, where tech trends like e-commerce and ride-sharing apps have spread like wildfire – means that businesses need to be agile, and prepared to try a variety of sales and marketing tactics. Any effort to establish a presence in these markets should start small. Focus groups, targeted presentations, and private networking platforms are all lean, effective ways for global IT and tech vendors to approach growth markets.
Naseba regularly organises market access workshops on behalf of global IT and technology vendors. These focused platforms are designed to introduce vendors to their ideal buyers, and incorporate a half-day agenda of networking, presentations and knowledge-sharing. We operate within a variety of markets, and workshops are tailored to meet each vendor’s specific needs.