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Doing Business in MENA Region

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Par   •  20 Mars 2019  •  Cours  •  4 235 Mots (17 Pages)  •  126 Vues

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Ieseg Paris

Business in MENA region

Marketing Peculiarities

Group D

Traks A., Rolin G., de La Moriniere T.

Professor: T.Mouelle

Paris 2019


Doing business in the MENA region is something very complicated. MENA region is a huge melting pot of Arabic and non-Arabic culture. Obviously, you need to prepare yourself carefully before entering such a market, if you don’t know the code your entrance could be a disaster. For instance launching a new line of sport clothes during Ramadan won’t work properly and the launching of your line would be a failure. This example may be obvious, but it illustrates well how the local dynamics and culture could have an impact on your business.

As MENA regions is very diverse you can’t make assumptions for the all region and you need to take each country one by one to be the most efficient. Marketing campaigns, for instance, is something that would vary a lot from one country to another. Using a sample of 6 countries of the region (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Libya) we are going to see the different ways of doing marketing for each one.


Qatar is a country with a population of 2.6 million located in the Persian Gulf. They are a small state 11 581 square km. Qatar is a monarchy ruled by an Emir.  It is using their own currency called Qatari Riyal and they are mostly populated by expats at a whopping number of 88.4% of non-Qatari people living in the country. [1] According to the International monetary fund it country with the highest GDP per capita at a 124,927 $ per person. [2]  Qatar has the highest Human Development Index in the Arab region scoring at 37th place in the world. It is considered very high. [3]  Qatar will hold the 2022 Fifa World cup being the first one in the Arabian world to do so. As of 2017, Qatar has suffered problematic relations with its former allies of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain over accusations of helping extremist groups which shifted it towards Turkey and Iran. [4] Qatar's population is highly urbanized at outstanding 99.3% living in cities. [5] Qatar lacks income tax in its country which gives people more disposable income to use.

        Qatar has an internet censorship program in place which filters out Political criticism of Gulf countries, Outspeaking/ Blasphemy towards Islam, Homosexual content, Pornography, Information about Sexual health, Dating and Escort services as well as tools used to circumvent the mentioned censorship. Still, a large diaspora of Qatari people uses VPN’s which allow them to circumvent the censorship. When marketing a product it is important to remember censorship laws. Assuming the censorship of the VPN networks then the censorship mostly applies to local citizens of Qatar. Also if opting to go for the marketing to VPN’s then it is important to remember that it will not be possible to market it to Qatar specific IP addresses and it would be hard to reach them unless the client will come looking himself or the marketer would own for example an emailing list so they can safely reach the client since a VPN can be from wildly different locations in the world.  

        In online marketing, it is important to remember to allow the choice of cash payment upon delivery since that is the predominant way for Qatari population to pay on internet purchases. People have distrust towards payments done through the internet. Although most of the Qatari population is expat it is still important to use the local Arabian dialect or the standardized Arab in the middle east.  While English is a common language most of the searches in search engines like Google are in the Arabic language. Marketing to Qatar with geolocation is useful and considering the SEO’s will reach the customer much easier than one’s marketed globally. Marketing through PPCs is most popular on Google through independent companies and websites have started going on the train and is predicted to hold a similar market share to google on PPC advertising. All in all when compared to for example the USA the google ads in Qatar are largely at a whole nother level. It is not uncommon to have one google ad in Qatar for every six in USA. It should also be considered as to where to geo target in Qatar. Even though the country is small in area it’s 99% urbanization makes a difference. Marketing with geolocation to these urban centers makes for a viable strategy, for example to Doha which holds a population of almost 1 million. A large part of the population also uses Social media with 77% of the total population being active users. On average Qatari people spend around 4 hours on social media per day. Most of the Qatari internet population is situated on Facebook and Twitter according to data from 2013. Instagram is the most popular option if opting for marketing retail produce. Also since smartphone penetration is highest in the middle eastern region then mobile marketing is important in the region with the biggest mobile operators being Ooredoo and Vodafone. Almost 93% use smartphones to access the internet for emails and social media. Although on another hand since Qatar is so economically successful for its region it has driven up the competition a lot. This means that ad space will cost more than you would find in other regions of MENA region although this also implies that for bigger investments you could get a bigger profit. Although this can be detrimental for small independent businesses who will not be able to compete in the Qatari market because of lack of funds compared to the rich competition. [6]

        On overall marketing in Qatar, it is quite resembling the western countries. Most of the marketing apart from internet one is used in form of Flyers, Billboards, and Media announcements. There are also several local ad agencies that are out to help for a price. Media outlets are split with English and Arabic language par exemple Arabic has 4 Daily newspapers and there are 3 English Daily newspapers. The Television network QTV broadcasts English and Arabic channels and they broadcast pre-recorded commercials.Radio station Qatar Broadcasting Service or QBS also carries out advertisements. Locally operated Al-Jazeera is also there and is independently funded with some government support. Al-Jazeera is the best choice in the region since millions of people watch it in Qatar as well as in it’s nearby region.  It broadcasts for regional and local advertisements. Qatar lacks any privately owned radio stations. [7]


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