The state of digital in the UAE

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining the first ever SIINDA LocalComm conference in Dubai, along with our CEO, Louise Lachmann. Hosted at Google’s local headquarters in the UAE, the conference provided insight into how the small businesses in the Middle East and North Africa are adopting digital marketing technologies.

Key takeaways 

To highlight a few messages from the conference, here are my key takeaways:

  • The region has very high technology adoption and mobile penetration rates
  • For businesses that are online, they are doing it fairly well but there is a huge opportunity in the region for the millions of businesses that are not online.
  • SMEs in MENA are no different than other regions of the world in the fact that they lack the time and expertise to manage their online marketing end to end - they want to be engaged but they need help
  • Location and mapping issues are persistent and represents a lot of opportunity for digital service providers in the region to help SMEs get online


Digital landscape study: UAE

Prior to the conference, Mono partnered with SIINDA and web intelligence company, Silktide, to look at the quality of small businesses’ digital presence in the United Arab Emirates. Our CEO, Louise Lachmann, took to the stage with Renato Bottini, Director of Business Development at Silktide, to discuss the results in a presentation aptly named “Are SMBs representing themselves online?”.

While Renato gave a thorough walkthrough of the results (see the infographic below for more), Louise highlighted some important considerations for small businesses to consider when investing in their digital presence:

  • Technology is constantly evolving, and Small business owners struggle to keep up with new technology
  • SMBs need a modern technology platform to help keep them up-to-date, and allows them to grow their business with engagement-driven solutions that drive a real return-on-investment for their digital presence, and ultimately helps them succeed online
  • With the right technology platform, digital service providers also have the opportunity to offer added service, advise and educate their SMB clients on how to optimize their digital presence
  • Young SMBs are more tech-savvy and independent, and they want to be engaged in managing certain aspects of their digital presence themselves, for example: accepting online bookings, sharing their expertise through blog posts and more.
  • SMBs are represented online today, but need to find a service provider that takes a do-it-with-me (DIWM) approach that allows them to engage with their digital presence, yet provides knowledge and advice where needed on how to improve their online presence


Digging into the research

If you’d like to know more about the research that we did in cooperation with SIINDA and Silktide, you can check out:

  • Podcast on The Digital Presence of Small Businesses in Europe and UAE with Kimberli Lewis from SIINDA and Renato Bottini from Silktide. Listen to the podcast now!
  • Download the infographic highlighting the statistics and key findings from the United Arab Emirates