Category Archives: Mobile Services In UAE

AstroLabs and Dubai Investment Development Agency Creating More Work Space For Startups

Dubai Startup Hub

Dubai is becoming  a real hub for startups everyday, not only offering great opportunities in terms of business but also providing great facilities and infrastructure for them as well. There are several initiatives being launch one after another to encourage startup ecosystem in the city, which is also parallel with the smart city vision of Dubai.

It has been announced that, AstroLabs and Dubai Investment Development Agency creating more work space for startups at the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre in April.

AstroLabs is a member of the 20 global tech hub networks of ‘Google for Entrepreneurs’ and the only hub in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region. With this new concept, a collaborative co-working space and educational centre is provided at Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) to support the start-ups.

The new initiative is not an investment platform, but it is solving a huge problem for startups by providing them a better workspace, where they can also interact with the other players as well as the investors. This is a real hub for the startup ecosystem in Dubai to help them reach Global players. Also, with this initiative, global startups will be able to reach the middle east region to showcase their service abilities for MENA people.

As, we believe that Dubai is the right place for startups to link their abilities with the global players. It is not easy to start a business in Dubai because of high investment costs, but on the other hand, many global players are raising their eyes to MENA region to launch their services in Middle East countries. This means, there is a huge opportunity for collaboration with the local players and the international ones. On the other hand, local companies in Dubai are not flexible enough to launch innovation quickly. This is another opportunity for startups to show their abilities in the market with the support of big local players. Number of similar initiatives will increase in the near future and Dubai has the potential to be the hub for the region, not only for the Gulf countries but also countries like Turkey, India and Singapore.

UAE Users Are Adopted Well On Digital (Statistics)

UAE Digital Usage Statistics

Statistics show that UAE users are adopted well on digital services and devices. UAE is not only far front of other Middle East countries and but also competing the world’s most advance countries in terms of digital usage according to TNS’s Connected Life Study.

As, we summarized some of the statistics for you to show where we are standing as UAE in the Digital World:

  • The average adults in the UAE owns at least four devices — smartphone, tablet, PC or laptop
  • UAE people already adopted using personal health services, connecting the car or home to other devices or the internet, using a 3D printer, and even using wearable technology, such as a smart watches and wristbands
  • The social media usage per day is reaching up to 5 hours, 3.3 hours in average.
  • Men use more devices and services than women in the UAE
  • 96% the UAE residents have a social media account and 67% are using it on a daily basis
  • Facebook and Youtube are the top social media platforms, while Whats App has the highest growth rate.
  • 93% of UAE residents have Facebook accounts and the monthly active users are 53%, followed by Google+ at 73% penetration rate and 27% monthly active users, Twitter at 64% penetration rate and 27% monthly active users, LinkedIn at 49% penetration rate and 22% monthly active users and Instagram at 26% and 10% monthly active users (According to DU)

We believe that the numbers are promising but there is one important issue in the UAE. The ownership and the active usage rates shows that, although the penetration is high, the adaptation is not the same in the UAE. The gap is even bigger for the local services like mobile banking, m-goverment and e/m-commerce services. The reason is the lack of quality for the services compared to the others in the world. As UAE, if we want to convert penetration into adaptation more, we need to focus on the quality of the services more, otherwise, global players will get more share from the pie and this is a real threat for the local services in the country.

UAE Reached 80% Penetration In Social Media Usage

UAE Social Media Penetration

UAE reached 80% penetration in social media usage and have the highest social penetration rate in the world according to Fahad Al Hassawi, chief commercial officer at Du. According to Al Hassawi, this number is only 24% in Middle East and an average user is spending 3.3 hours daily on social media in the UAE. After the UAE, Singapore comes next at 59 per cent while Australia and UK have 57 per cent penetration rates each. Al Hassawi also said that 96 per cent of the UAE residents have a social media account and 67 per cent are using it on a daily basis.

These great numbers are also making the Telecom operators to provide special packages to their customers, who want to access social networks more through their mobiles. This is why, Du recently announced the free data package plans for social media users on pre-paid plans. They are also planning the same for the post paid users and working on the new post paid SIM to enable this.

As, we believe that data will be focus of Telecom Operators in the upcoming years as currently, instant messaging already took over the SMS and voice communication is also under threat because of VoIP (Voice over IP) services. With iOS 8 and new iPad Air 2, Apple already showed their plans about the SIM-less world and other players like Samsung seems to be interested on the same as well. Currently, TRA is controlling this for Telcos and for sure, this will not become a reality for the UAE for the near future but Telecom Operators needs to be prepared for this change to protect their business. They need to get more customers on board in terms of Data usage so this move is very important milestone for the UAE. This is also bringing great opportunities for other companies to be involved in partnerships with the Telecom operators to push their mobile offerings.

Top Talks Middle East Conference in Dubai on 26th, January


We all remember how successful was the Ice Bucket Challenge Campaign, right? Actually it was a true example of launching a great interactive campaign on social media world wide. So if you want to learn how did this campaign so well, you should attend the #TopTalksME conference on 26th, January at Souq El Bahar, Dubai, UAE.

With guest speaker Brian Frederick, #TOPtalksME will discuss the key learning points obtained and challenges faced by the Ice Bucket Challenge. A Facebook representative will also be present on stage to offer insights on the key trends that helped make this campaign successful. The event will provide startups, marketers, agencies and NGOs with the success factors and challenges that the highly successful campaign faced.

To learn how you could launch a campaign as big as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, join the event for free here. You can also join the open table discussion with Brian by registering here.

Protect Yourself From Mobile Frauds, Especially If You Are An Android User

Mobile devices are now under attack more than ever, thanks (!) to un-protected Android Ecosystem. The Hackers are targeting Android users by developing applications which steal customer data. The last news came from South Korea where the hackers developed a fake application about the famous “Interview” movie to steal user’s mobile banking credentials. There are more than 20,000 devices compromised so far with this attack but we don’t know the amount of fraud as it’s not disclosed yet.

UAE is also under attack know as far as we know from various sources. Hackers are targeting the Android device owners in the UAE market to get customer credentials and forward SMS Authentication codes to authorize transactions. To protect yourself from these kind of threats, please read the list below.

1) Don’t download Apps from unknown sources


Hackers will send you links to download any application directly by clicking on it. When you click on the link, it tells you to enable unknown sources for installations. Simply, never do this! Google Play Store should be your only source to download any application for Android devices. It never asks you to enable unknown sources when you try to install an app from Google Play Store.

2) Be sure you are downloading the right app

Not like App Store, Google Play is not checking the apps for customers, as it is an open source, free platform for developers. This means, you need to take care of your self and take the responsibility for the apps you are installing from Google Play. So be sure that you are downloading the right application by checking the app page on app store.

For example, check the Emirates NBD Mobile Banking Application page below. You can understand from the reviews section and also from the Additional Information Part that this app is the bank’s official application.

Emirates NBD Mobile Banking on Google Play

3) Don’t Share Any Personal Information On The App

Don’t forget, banks never ask personal information through their mobile apps as they already have it. While signing your agreement with the bank, they are already collecting the most of the information they need from you. If they need more information, most probably, they will be asking you to visit a branch or do it through ATMs by using your debit card. So don’t share any personal information like card number, password, mobile number through the applications which you don’t trust.

What is the most popular handset in the UAE?

The answer is iPhone 5s according to TRA (The Telecommunications Regulation Authority) for the Q3 of 2014 in the UAE. iPhone 5s become the most popular handset in the UAE between 1st, July to 30th, September.

Most Popular Handsets In The UAE

TRA announced some interesting statistics for the handset usage in the UAE. According to the numbers;

  • iPhone 5S is the is the most commonly used smart phone in the UAE in the Q3 of 2014. (3.7% of all handsets registered in UAE) iPhone 5 is the runner up while Samsung Galaxy S3 is having the 3rd place.
  • 59% of registered handsets in the UAE Network are smartphones
  • 45% of all handsets registered in the UAE network are Nokia devices. This figure is decreased by 5% compared to last two quarters. his was followed by Samsung (22.6%), Apple (10%), BlackBerry (6.1%), Sony (1.1%), HTC (1%), then the newly emerged manufacturer Lenovo (0.9%) and Huawei (0.8%)
  • Android has the highest market share in terms of operating systems and it is followed by iOS. Both are increasing their shares while Blackberry and Symbian are loosing their shares dramatically.
  • The report also says that n terms of social media, UAE Smartphone and fixed Internet users made a total of 28 billion visits to social networking websites during the period 1 July 2014 to 30 September 2014. Visits to Facebook accounted for 88% of total visits to social networking sites, followed by Twitter with 9% of visits, then LinkedIn, Maktoob and MySpace.

Du Expands Carrier Billing Offerrings With icflix Deal

After their agreement with Microsoft, Du is now offering the carrier billing service for icflix users to subscribe the service without entering any card information.

The agreement is announced with the mail which has been sent by the Telco operator to its customers.

Du Carrier Billing icflix

As, for Telco operators, carrier billing is the right direction if they want to have a place in the financial services. Du is taking the right steps so far and we hope to see more in the near future.

Mobile Payment 2015 (Infographic)

2015 will be the year of Mobile Payments in the UAE. National wallet project is going on (read our related article here) while telecom operators are launching partnerships (read our related article here) in parallel. Not only that, many banks are working on different services on the wallet space and other big companies investing on independent wallets (See our article about Beam Wallet here)

While a lot of thing happening in the UAE market, we wanted to share what is going on in the world in terms of Mobile Payments and what is expected in the near future. and Cellum shared the below infographic about the latest stats in mobile payments area.


What Does Crowd Economy Mean For UAE

Crowd economy

On digital of things, everybody is asking the same question: What is next?

There are different trends (we also shared some of them with you here and here) but when and how they will effect our market is still the biggest question.

As, we believe that, one of the most important trends for the UAE market will be crowd economy. We will describe why it is important but first of all, let’s take a look, what does crowd economy (it is also called as shared / collaborative economy) means:

“The sharing economy (sometimes also referred to as the peer-to-peer economy, mesh, collaborative economy, collaborative consumption) is a socio-economic system built around the sharing of human and physical resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organizations. These systems take a variety of forms, often leveraging information technology to empower individuals, corporations, non-profits and government with information that enables distribution, sharing and reuse of excess capacity in goods and services. A common premise is that when information about goods is shared, the value of those goods may increase, for the business, for individuals, and for the community.” (Wikipedia)

As you can understand from the above definition, crowd economy is all about sharing services. Sharing things is not something new for human being. We started sharing thoughts first, than we shared food, we shared life and everything we had basically. Today, it is much more easier to share things, thanks to the digital world! Previously, we were sharing things with people around us, now our borders widened, we can reach any people all around the world and this means, we can share more.

For companies, this is bringing a huge opportunity. 2014 was the year for the ones, who took this opportunity really well like Uber, Airbnb and even the Dubai based company Carpool. All these examples showed that, the platforms, which are creating the crowd economy are growing faster than any other business.

When it comes to UAE market, this opportunity is even higher. Most of the companies in the UAE are just moving to Digital and still have a lot to do to achieve world class standards. If they choose the way to move traditionally about creating their space in the digital world, which means investing individually to create all the services from scratch, this will take a huge time for them to catch the digital train. But, if they focus on their core business and share them with more specific digital services, they will benefit more in a shorter time period. Not only time, but also from the cost perspective, this will reduce the costs, especially in terms of initial investment costs.

This means collaboration of companies. For example, API sharing is becoming more important everyday. Big companies, who has the power but not enough flexibility to move faster should focus on creating the open APIs to serve their core services. Small companies, like tech startups, who are less powerful but more flexible will be able to take these APIs and focus on user experience. With this collaboration, it is an absolute win-win model for both sides and even for the end users.

More important, this can be implemented in all sectors, not only for specific ones. Today, especially in US, there are many examples working perfectly in health sector, cities (governmental areas), financial sector, tourism, transportation and more.

Watch the video below to see how crowd economy evolved just under 1 year and what is expected in 2015.


Zomato is Launching Cashless Payments in Dubai

Note the date, 1st, February, Zomato is launching Cashless Payments in Dubai. If you are using the Zomato app, you will be able to pay your restaurant bills directly by using your mobile device.


Zomato, the restaurant listing service is doing great things in Dubai. As, we previously mentioned Zomato as one of the must have applications if you are living in UAE. By using Zomato, you can find the best places to eat and drink around the city.

Now, they have added one more ability to their application, which will be making your life easier. With the cashless payment option, all you need to enter your card details to Zomato app ones. The app will be saving your card information securely so you don’t need to introduce your card to waiters to do payments. Once you check in to the restaurant, your bill will appear on your mobile device and you will be able to pay it quickly.

It will solve a big problem in Dubai, as it is really a nightmare to pay a bill in most of the restaurants.

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