Ever since the Arab Spring, the role played by the media, and especially social media, in the Middle East has been extremely important. Despite some countries undergoing media censorships due to governments fearing more protests, the rise of Influencer Marketing is also increasing. While the Middle East can be a key market for brands, this region remains often misunderstood.
Social media in the Middle East STATISTICS
- Facebook has more than 164 million monthly active users in the region. This is an increase by 56 million people over the past 5 years.
- The number of Youtube channels increased by 160% in the last 3 years. More than 200 youtube channels in this region have over 1 million subscribers. Youtube is a social network widely used in this region, especially in the beauty sector.
- Saudi Arabia has the highest annual growth of social media users in the world (an increase of 32% from January 2017 to January 2018). It has the biggest number of active Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat users with 12M, 11M and 14M respectively
- Men dominate social media (in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates) with the exception of Snapchat, where women dominate with 6.5M vs 5.5M users.
Influencer marketing in the MENA region
1- Who are these influencers?
In the United Arab Emirates, the major influencers are mostly from the region and mostly celebrities. Expats are usually micro-influencers. We can therefore rather speak of a celebrity who is prolonged on social networks, than of profiles revealed thanks to Instagram or even Youtube.
In this region of the world, social networks like Instagram have enabled women and men to connect with millions of people around the world. They inspire many internet users, who want to follow people who look like themselves, while allowing them to discover a different lifestyles, very specific to the Middle East.
Every country has its own specialty; in Bahrain, the most important influencers are part of the beauty sector (usually makeup artists). In other regions, influencers are more centered around food with fast-food being particularly popular. In Dubai, influencers share their view about fashion, art, and photography.
2- What are the most popular sectors in the region?
Luxury brands, fashion, beauty and entertainment are the sectors most commonly promoted by celebrities from the United Arab Emirates. Influencers were able to regularly receive bottomless budget proposals without any certainty of success, until certain regulations were put in place. These influencers are very important for luxury brands because they tend to promote a lot of accessories (leather goods, jewelry, perfumes, etc.) and are very sharp on the latest fashion trends. Brands are seduced by the relationship that influencers have with their fans.
Campaign exemples by Middle East influencers :
- Bulgari x Save The Children
- Laura Mercier #luminousinanylight
What about influencers' wages? Are there regulations?
Some influencers in the MENA region are the most expensive in the world, with transactions ranging from $3,000 to $100,000. This region is considered an untapped market and brands are willing to pay a high price to reach their potential customers. In 2017, the average brand budget increased significantly with 43% of brands confirming that they spent between 900 and 9,000 euros for their influencer campaigns in the UAE, some having even reached amounts of 9,000 and 45,000 euros for a collaboration with a unique influencer.
To limit abuses, the government introduced rules, such as the obligation to hold a license to participate in paid promotional activities with brands. Officials say the new rules should not prevent creative content, but professionalize and regulate this booming sector. The cost of acquiring a license can be as high as $4,000 per year, and applicants must be at least 21 years old and have a degree. The sanctions if these rules are not followed are fines of up to 5,000 dirhams (around 1,200 euros), a verbal warning and / or the closure of the account or website.
12 Middle Eastern influencers you should know about:
In Dubaï - Fashion influencers
@latifalshamsi : 343K followersLatifa, a fashion influencer who also posts food content and shares her travels with us. She created her own brand of ready-to-wear jewelry, Latifa Al Shamsi.
@therjacobs : 19.7K followersRhea is an ambassador of the Marc Jacobs make-up brand. She is also a fashion and lifestyle influencer, sharing some photos from her travels and some of her creations. She posts very creative content and is in the top 100 of the most influential Asians in Masala Mag.
In Dubaï - Beauty influencers
@dinalsharif : 280K followersDina is a youtuber with more than 210,000 subscribers, but also very present on other social networks like Instagram. On Youtube, she posts make-up tutorials such as the one inspired by the Game of Thrones series. She gives advice on the different ways to wear her hijab.
@thetezzyfiles : 32.2K followers
Tehzeeb is a makeup blogger (https://thetezzyfiles.com). She shares her make-up tutorials and rates the different beauty products she uses.
In Dubaï - Food influencers
@daliaskitchen : 41.8K followersA food influencer who grew up in Paris. Today, Dalia writes about her culinary experiences for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia
In Saudi Arabia - Fashion influencers
@taleedah : 17.7K followersTaleedah is a Saudi influencer and top model who participated in Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris on July 2018. She is the first top model from Saudi Arabia to have made Paris Fashion Week. She also appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia in 2018. She wants to change the perception of top models in Saudi Arabia.
In Saudi Arabia - Beauty influencers
@han.makeup: 24.4K followersHan is a makeup artist from Saudi Arabia who shares her makeup looks and gives advice by giving references of the products she uses so that her community can recreate her looks.
In Saudi Arabia - Food influencers
@eman.mjd : 221K followers
Eman is a food influencer who introduces to us the different restaurants and addresses where we can eat in Saudi Arabia, but also in many other countries such as Lebanon and Malaysia. By watching his feed, your stomach will grumble!
@ibesh88: 15,2K followersIbesh is a food influencer who shares all the different meals she eats throughout her numerous trips.