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Saudi Arabia and the UAE key drivers of mobile growth in Q1 2017

GCC mobile market will see slight slump towards Q4 2017 despite starting on a positive high

Saudi Arabia and the UAE key drivers of mobile growth in Q1 2017
Samsung led the GCC smartphone market with Apple following in second place

International Data Corporation (IDC) revealed that whilst the GCC mobile market began 2017 on a positive high, the year will end on a negative.

IDC noted from its Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker that overall shipments for the first quarter totalled 6.1 million units, this was up by 2.4% compared to the previous quarter. Despite there being an increase, IDC stated that the market is still below the levels it used to be.

The report highlighted that the GCC's biggest markets, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, were the prime drivers of growth with shipments up 5.1% and 4.3% in Q1 2017.

Kafil Merchant, a research analyst at IDC, revealed: "Saudi Arabia is finally showing some signs of stabilisation following the major negative impact of Saudisation on the kingdom's mobile phone industry, in 2016. However, there are still challenges in the market that need to be overcome.

"As such, it will take another year before the 'organised retail' channel compensates for the massive drop in volumes previously pushed through dominant independent retailer channel, which has shrunk by almost 30% since the beginning of Saudisation in June 2016."

Merchant concluded: "Additionally, the lack of available credit in the channel is also dampening the shipment of mobile phones into the country, with many channel players pessimistic about the chances of the Saudi market returning to its previous levels anytime soon."

Samsung led the GCC smartphone market, however this does not include its Galaxy S8 and S8+ devices, Apple followed in second place with the success of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models.

Nabila Popal, a senior research manager at IDC, said: "2017 will be a challenging year for all brands, and it will be interesting to see who survives this major shift in the landscape and whether there is a reshuffle in the rankings of the top players. 

"We also have Nokia coming back, in the mid-ASP category initially, where many brands like Lenovo and Huawei have already marked their territory, and this is creating a lot of excitement in the channel. One thing's for sure, this will be the space to watch for a highly competitive battle and possible shift in market share."

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