According to Madar Research, there were more than 26 million Arabic-speaking Internet users at the end of 2005, an increase of 50% over 2004. Although overall Internet penetration in the Arab world is still less than 10% (the UAE leads, at 8.5% penetration, followed by Qatar and Bahrain), more multinationals are now taking notice.
Still, most multionationals shy away from the Middle East because they see only hurdles — from instability to language and culture to low spending power. But there are opportunities in this region for those companies willing to take a chance and learn from the ground up.
Speaking of opportunities, Harvard Business School features an interview with professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter on her recent research on multinationals in Egypt. She says her “project looks at how the “giants” are transforming themselves in light of their continuing and increasing global scope, and what kind of impact they have on the ground, including whether and how they influence the standards of the countries in which they operate as they seek global consistency.”
PS: The February issue of Global by Design features an article on Arabizing Your Web Site.