According to one source, mobile penetration across the Middle East is considerably higher overall than the average globally.
Kuwait for example boasts the highest mobile penetration in the MENA region with 212% or close to 6.5 million mobile subscriptions.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE as well as Egypt have very impressive penetration. Saudi Arabia has 188% or 51.3 million, UAE 168% or 15.7 million and Egypt with 115% or 99.6 million.
Smartphones have become an integral part of the mobile market in the Middle East. Throughout the Arab world, the devices are used by 47% of the people.
An owner of a smartphone in a country in the GCC (Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Qatar) owns on average 2.9 devices.
In the Arab world, 41% of the users of mobile devices whether it be smartphone or tablet, currently are making purchases through the devices. That percentage represents more than 25 million people.
Popular purchases made on mobile devices included items that are mobile specific such as the many different apps available. These are very popular purchases throughout Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
In addition, items that are travel related, such as hotel reservations and airline tickets are also being purchased at high rates in these countries.
A number of facets of the ecommerce industry in the Middle East, which show how technology that is offline and habits are beginning to help shopping online reach even more people. Bill presentment and cash on-delivery are two of these examples.
Mobile is also driving purchases in-store as well. Thirty-six percent of smartphone users in the Arab world are saving items in their checkout online and then purchasing them at a brick and mortar store later.
Clearly it is important for people living in the Middle East to have mobile devices, with many considering smartphones as their most important route to activities online including ecommerce.
Clear growth potential exists with just half the population in the Middle East owning a smartphone.