Middle East internet content lags behind

Google says regions' internet must become richer, develop a wider range of content

Tags: E-commerceEntertainmentGoogle IncorporatedUnited Arab Emirates
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Middle East internet content lags behind Google Gulf regional manager Mohamad Murad says that the Middle East must develop its web content and make it richer.
By  Georgina Enzer Published  June 23, 2011

In the Middle East, internet user's conduct 120m searches on Google per day from a user base of about 80m users, according to Mohamad Murad, Google's Gulf regional manager, but it is lagging slightly behind search averages for other regions.

Globally, Google sees 4 billion searches per day from 35 billion connected devices.

The Middle East region is seeing 120m YouTube video views per day which is large, according to Murad, viewing numbers are 3bn per day globally.

In the Middle East, YouTube viewing is almost equal to the number of Google searches in the region.

"If you look at Saudi Arabia, it is the highest number of YouTube views on mobile per user in the world," said Murad. "Video is going to become more and more interesting. Cisco predicts that by 2015, 90% of the internet will be in the form of video."

Facebook is also doing well in the region with 27m users.

Murad said that the anatomy of the internet in the Middle East is not where it should be, with 35% of internet content in the form of forums, discussions and user-generated content.

"[User-generated] content is good because it shows that people are engaging with the internet, but globally it is 2 to 4%. It is 35% because there is no professional content. This means that there is a lot for us to do to make the internet richer in this part of the world," said Murad.

One of the things that needs to be developed, to make the internet in the Middle East richer, is e-commerce.

"E-commerce is very new in the region, there are a few barriers, but I don't think the barriers are unique and they are the same in every country in the world. People talk about barriers because of payment methods and they are not comfortable to put their credit card details on the internet, but we heard this ten years ago in the US and seven years ago in the UK," said Murad.

Google said that whoever takes advantage of things such as e-commerce in the region now, while it is still young, will reap huge benefits.

The development of more Arabic, educational and video content is also necessary to develop the internet in the region.

"Why can't we have all this content in Arabic, why can't we have all the curricula of all the schools in the Middle East on the internet for free? People like us need to do something, starting today. Anybody can develop software from anywhere in the world," said Murad.

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