JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is the largest digital market in the region, with 40 percent of Arabic tweets coming from Saudi Arabia. Saudis also contributed to 50 percent of the Arabic Wikipedia contents and 35 percent of the Arabic content on the Internet Arabic. Furthermore, 60 percent of Saudi Internet users have accounts on Facebook and 70 percent of them surf the web in Arabic.
However, despite these figures, the Arabic content on the World Wide Web is less than 2 percent, according to Omar Christidis, founder and CEO of ArabNet.net.
Christidis said the Arabic language is the seventh language most frequently used on the Web, with increasing demand on Arabic contents. He also added that more initiatives to create Arabic websites emerge from Saudi Arabia
Statistics show that Saudi Arabia has the highest consumption of YouTube videos per capita in the world. Young Saudi production studios, like U-Turn and C3, have created shows viewed by millions.
Christidis’ Arabnet portal is holding a conference in Riyadh on Nov. 20-21. The conference is hosted by King Abdul Aziz University’s ‘Badir’ program for business incubators.
A panel of 50 speakers and 600 attendees will discuss the latest opportunities and trends in Internet and mobile applications in Saudi Arabia.
The rapid uptake of tablets has also opened new opportunities for mobile content publishing and increased demand for e-books. Global revenues from e-books are forecast to grow to $ 9.7 billion by 2016, according to Juniper Research, and the percentage of revenues generated by publishing houses and book retailers from e-book sales is on the rise.
In the Middle East, companies like Flagship Pro and Ertiqa are working closely with publishers to ensure that Arabic books and content are available for Arabic tablet users. Seventy percent of the titles in Rufoof Online, a digital library application developed by Flaghsip Pro, are in Arabic, and the company is working with English publishers to translate exclusive and original content into Arabic.
The availability of these applications is opening new market opportunities for Arabic content developers and publishers, a theme that will be explored at ArabNet Riyadh by Badr Ward, CEO of Ertiqa, and Shadi Hassan, founder and managing director of Flagship Pro, among other speakers.
ArabNet Riyadh will also explore the latest in e-commerce, social media and gaming.
The conference will highlight the most promising Saudi and Arab entrepreneurs, who will compete in ArabNet’s signature competitions — the Ideathon and Startup Demo. They will also have the chance to pitch their ideas and companies to international and local investors, as well as the media. “There’s no doubt that Saudi Arabia is living a new era in terms of entrepreneurship, especially in the fields of the Internet and smartphones, and I think this is the right time to encourage Saudi youth both financially and morally,” says Faris AlRashid, chairman of Oqal, a network investor based in Riyadh.
The Ideathon Competition sponsored by Qualcomm targets individuals with promising ideas for Web or mobile businesses, while the Startup Demo targets nascent digital companies with strong business potential.