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The New Arab

Apple to launch Arabic-only App Store to woo Middle East tech fans

The region's overwhelmingly young population is appealing to companies like Apple [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 July, 2019

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The global technology giant is reportedly looking to tap the unexploited young Arab market by boosting Arabic-language content.

Apple will launch an all-Arabic AppStore service in September, as part of a bid to tap the Middle Eastern technology market.

The Arabic language-only AppStore was recently made available to subscribed developers and members of the Apple Beta Software Program, who will test the new system before it is released to the general public in two months time.

The launch of the Arabic AppStore will coincide with the release of Apple’s latest operating software, IOS-13.

While the number of Arabic-specific apps remains small, Apple reportedly hopes to tap a growing technology market in the region.

While only around half of the population in the Middle East is online, an overwhelming two-thirds of the population is under-35 - a key market technology giants like Apple are looking to exploit.

The company has made inroads in the region over the past few years, launching Apple Pay in Saudi Arabia in 2015 and in the UAE in 2017. 

It was also able to overcome local ownership restrictions to launch the first physical Apple stores in the region in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 2015.

"The Middle East represents still largely an untapped growth opportunity," Sam Blatteis, CEO of The MENA Catalysts, a government relations firm that advises multinational technology companies in the Gulf, told The Media Line

"If you look at the geometry of rapidly expanding youth demographics married with soaring demand and consumption for apps, you see the tectonic plates moving beneath our feet that show just how large the stakes are."

Apple is reportedly looking to exploit the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations in particular, with Arabic-language localisation and encouraging the development of native Arabic-language content a key goal in boosting business in the region.

"The localisation that Apple is doing matters because in the world, you have 450 million Arabic speakers, which is roughly five to six percent of the world's population," Blatteis added. "Only one to two percent of the internet's content is in Arabic."

 

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