Future Proof: Your business and the Arab world

05 July 2024

There are over 222 million Arabic-speaking web users, with 2020 projections forecasting a potential USD $2.5 trillion in online revenue. Despite the obvious financial incentives, however, many companies seeking to expand internationally haven’t yet considered adding the Arab-speaking world to its business portfolio. There are several reasons for that, all to be explored throughout this white paper. The good news? It’s never been a better or easier time to bring products and services to the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region, and thanks to language service providers like e-Arabization, it may be as simple as placing a phone call and trusting your language partners to do the heavy lifting. 


Twenty-two countries make up the Arab-speaking world: Algeria, Bahrain, the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. All these countries bring their own rich and venerable cultures and traditions while unifying around a shared language and heritage elements. 

Religiously, the majority of Arabs are Muslim. However, there are also significant Christian and Jewish Arab populations. These religious communities are distinct and nuanced in their beliefs, traditions, and sensibilities. 

According to World Bank data published in 2022, the Arab world is populated by 464,684,914 individuals, with an annual population growth of 1.8%. Of that population, 76% is connected to the internet. The gross domestic product in USD is $3.54 trillion, with a GDP per capita of $7,625.3. 


According to the World Bank’s 2022 data, GDP growth was 6%, although that number trended downward in subsequent years, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasting a growth rate of 2.9% for 2024. IMF analysts attribute the downward trend to three key factors: the conflict in Gaza and Israel and its impacts on neighboring countries, particularly with heightened security concerns in Red Sea trade and shipping; oil production cuts by industry exporters despite healthy activity in non-oil sectors; and restrictive macroeconomic policies intended to curb debt and inflation in some countries. Nevertheless, they also see reasons for optimism. 

“An encouraging development is that inflation has continued to decline in most MENA economies in line with global trends except in some parts of the region due to country-specific challenges,” said Jihad Azour, director of IMF Middle East and Central Asia Department. 

Despite the tumult of recent world events, analysts see incredible opportunities down the road for those seeking to invest in the MENA region. According to Global Finance Magazine, the regional economies are diversifying in intriguing ways. While the hydrocarbon industry remains the region's economic foundation, MENA countries are pursuing ambitious economic revitalization programs.   

“Milestone changes include allowing 100% foreign ownership of companies in several jurisdictions where international investors traditionally needed a local partner, boosting capital markets, introducing long-term residency programs and loosening up on Islamic laws to allow unmarried expatriate couples to live under the same roof,” the magazine report reads. 

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a leader in pushing economic growth to the forefront. Described by Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, as a “bright spot for the world economy,” the kingdom seeks a 65% private-sector contribution to its GDP by 2030, a data point that should perk up foreign business owners seeking to expand. Another perk-worthy data point is the type of industry expanding throughout the region — specifically, technology. Financial technology leads the way in the MENA region, with $1.1 billion raised in 2022. But according to Global Finance Magazine, the spread across several technology verticals is cause for excitement. 

“Technology as a strong enabler of growth is a trend to look for again this year,” Global Finance Magazine reports. “In 2022, investment in MENA startups reached $3.9 billion, up 24% from 2021, spread over 795 deals, reports ecosystem observer Wamda. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt attracted the greatest funding; but promising deals also took place in Algeria, Bahrain, Palestine, Oman, Iraq, Qatar, Yemen, Sudan and Tunisia.” 

Likewise, Grand View Research projects that the MENA movies and entertainment industry to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.5% from 2021 to 2028, reaching USD $3,568.3 million by 2028. 

“The market is anticipated to be driven by the increasing popularity of 3D movies that give the audience an experience of Virtual Reality (VR),” Grand View Research states. “The introduction of new marketing and distribution platforms such as IPTV, digital newspapers, DTH, and digital cable, as well as the online sales of music and movies, is anticipated to boost industry progress.” 

Another exciting area for growth? Video games. Statista reports that the industry is expected to double by 2027 from its USD $3 billion 2021 benchmark. 

“The top three gaming markets in MENA are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Egypt,” the report states. “Large [games and game developers] such as Ubisoft, Minecraft, and Fortnite consider young people from the region as some of their most passionate fans.” 

What unifies all those growing sectors of the MENA economy? A need for language, localization, and culturalization services. In the following sections, let’s explore a few nuances of localization in the Arab world and what the experts of LSPs like e-Arabization can contribute to enterprising business owners. 


It’s no secret that good localization is simply good business sense. According to Zoe Marketing & Communications, 84% of businesses report positive revenue growth when they localize their business’ marketing content. That’s especially true when they work with partners who have a complete understanding of the nuances, quirks, and cultural sensitivities surrounding regional languages. 

What’s more, ChatLingual reports that 70% of consumers spend most of their time consuming art, entertainment, products, and services in their native language, and 75% are more likely to buy them when text, dialogue, instructions, and supporting materials are properly localized into their native language. And half of ChatLingual’s respondents report that they’d consider paying a higher price for products and services properly localized into their native language. 

Sure, The British Council reports that nearly a quarter of the world’s population — an estimated 1.75 billion people — speak English. But think about your own life. What do you prefer to hear? A language you learned to open up opportunities and advance your station in life? Or the language you absorbed from your parents and loved ones as a child? The language that gave expression to ever-more impressive milestones and achievements as a teenager? The language that made you fall in love with your significant other? 

The natural intimacy between an individual and their native language is a powerful dynamic, one with significant value for business leaders considering international expansion. And it’s especially important in the world of arts and entertainment, where emotional appeal and connection are vital for the success or failure of the work.   

That said, localization can’t be a slapdash effort. For instance, the Localization Consumer Impact Study, released in 2021, studied European consumer media consumption habits in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. While 79% of respondents reported watching foreign media at least sometimes, most also reported encountering substandard subtitling and dubbing on a regular basis. 

“Only 13% report zero issues, with 10% running into problems every day, 18% at one or two times a week, 33% at one or two times a month, and 25% one or two times a year,” MultiLingual Media reported, summing up the study’s conclusions. “For a majority, the issues are so bad, they sometimes quit watching, with 7% saying once a week, 20% at once a month, 37% at once a year, and 36% never quitting due to poor localization.”

It’s also important to find a partner that understands the nuances of the Arab world. According to CSA Research, while the Arab world is united around the Arabic language, it’s far from a simple situation. 

“The languages used in the Arabic-speaking world for conversation, social networks, messaging, and content marketing are not Classical Arabic,” Arle Lommel of CSA Research writes. “Instead, varieties — such as Egyptian Arabic, Levantine Arabic, and Maghrebi Arabic — reflect the great variety of cultures and empires through which they spread, naturalized, and absorbed words and concepts from both colonial and indigenous languages.”

For that reason, CSA Research recommends that newcomers and business-to-business brands start with a single variant, with major brands in Arabic markets expanding to two variants and the most sophisticated operations maintaining four regional variants. Entertainment brands can also consider using Egyptian Arabic for a dynamic flourish, depending upon the audience they wish to attract.  

This illustrates the importance of a good localization partner. Fortunately, partners like e-Arabization are ready and more than willing to make that process as simple as possible without sacrificing the quality that can drive consumers away. 


International business sometimes feels like it moves at the speed of light, and when deadlines are tight, it’s important that your localization partner can deliver at the required quality and quantity. Fortunately, qualified LSPs like e-Arabization have embraced a hybrid model of machine and human power to ensure translations are done on time, in accordance with regional sensibilities, and at a level of linguistic quality that leaves everyone happy.

e-Arabization, for instance, combines human translation with pre- and post-editing machine translation for consistent and cost-effective results. Cloud-based memory systems and a custom computer-assisted translation tool empower 375 linguists working in parallel to deliver speedy, consistent results every time. That even applies to highly technical documentation that ecommerce providers often utilitze. 

Speaking of ecommerce, a good localization partner should be equipped to enable a business mission irrespective of industry — a point on which e-Arabization takes pride. The LSP knows how to give new life and vitality to the ecommerce shopping experience that 1.8 billion online shoppers rely upon. In hospitality and leisure, e-Arabization linguists ensure that their five-star clients like Jumeriah Group and Atlantis The Palm can deliver a welcoming online and offline experience to their guests. In media and entertainment, they assist in raising profiles for apps and art alike regardless of where customers and customers reside. The world now runs on digital technology, and the Arabic-speaking world is as tech-savvy as it comes — e-Arabization ensures your product meets their exacting expectations. Business and finance? e-Arabization understands how to localization the immense volume of internal and external documentation and materials, all in compliance with the many specifications of this highly regulated industry. And in the world of education, e-Arabization helps both children and adult students gain greater understanding  with expertly translated learning resources. 

It’s a model with proven results. For instance, e-Arabization reports that in achieved $3,279,000 in cost savings for one of its major clients, the Trafalgar Luxury Group, which partners with over 40 brands and maintains 55 stores in five countries throughout the Middle East. Indeed, massive companies around the world trust e-Arabization with their brands, whether it be Amazon, McDonald’s, the BBC, Dubai Parks and Resorts, and many more. 

How do they handle the demand? By investing in a large staff with unparalleled expertise. e-Arabization maintains offices in Amman, Dubai, and Riyadh and employs 375 linguists. That means the LSP can handle over 15 million words translated every month and supports over 10 languages, allowing for an impressive array of linguistic pairings. e-Arabization linguists have localizaed over 2 million products for ecommerce websites, and with over 3 billion words logged, they aslo wield the biggest translation memory database in the MENA region. All that means they keep over 100 clients across 10 geographies happy and their bottom lines healthy. 

All that is to say that the choice of localization partner is critical to any brand’s success. Trust is the essence of multilingual, cross-cultural commerce, and with a partner a company can depend upon, the Arab world represents an exciting opportunity for any online business’ expansion plans.