In recent years, access to and usage of online services has seen astonishing growth in the Middle East. The number of internet and mobile data users in the region has never been higher. Many businesses exporting to the Middle East are developing their localization strategy to take advantage of this ever-growing internet exposure, and you should be too.
To give you an idea of the size of this growth, Statista reports that the internet penetration rate for the Middle East – the percentage of people in the Middle East using the internet – has grown massively from 29.8% of the population in 2010 to 57.4% in 2016. That’s nearly 245 million people accessing the internet – a figure that is projected to continue rising into 2017.
Many large multi-national companies from the West are already operating in the Middle East market. Big food chains like Subway and McDonald's, for instance, are seeing enormous success in the Middle East. But before rushing into exporting your business, we strongly recommend developing your localization strategy for the Middle East.
Why you should get your content localized?
When thinking about exporting to the Middle East, it’s important to research your target market and develop a strong localization strategy before beginning to take your business overseas. Sound knowledge and understanding of the people and culture that you’re aiming your business at can go a long way towards success in the region. This rings particularly true for the Middle East, where lifestyle and culture vary greatly from that of the West. For instance, Middle East culture has strong religious foundations and has a huge impact on lifestyle in the Middle East – particularly towards alcohol and dress code, to name but a few.
More often than not, large multi-national companies will have a localization strategy in place for the Middle East market. This means that a company’s branding, images, text, and use of language are not only translated to be used in the Middle East but is localized specifically for consumers in that region. Localization takes into consideration cultural differences and adapts the text or images accordingly. It avoids any loss of meaning that may occur from simply translating the text and prevents any accidental offense that could be caused by not having the text localized.
Developing a localization strategy for the Middle East isn’t just beneficial to big corporations, it can also be hugely advantageous to any business exporting to the region. By getting your content and branding globalized, you are giving your business the best opportunity to succeed, knowing that the image and message of your brand is being portrayed exactly how you want it to be.
Things to consider in your localization strategy
So, to help you with your localization strategy for the Middle East, we’ve noted down some quick tips to take into consideration when looking to expand your business in the Middle East.
Tip 1: Research your target audience
The Middle East covers a vast geographical area, which encompasses a diverse range of countries and cultures. There are many different languages spoken in the Middle East and a lot of varieties in religion. What may work for the middle-class consumers of Dubai may not work for the working-class consumers in Egypt. Getting your content localized by a professional, native linguist can go a long way to getting your content correct for your needs.
Tip 2: Localise your website
Getting website localization for the Middle East market is the quickest, easiest way of engaging consumers in the Middle East. According to the Common Sense Advisory, 56.2% of consumers say that having information available in their own language is more important to them than the price. By getting your website globalized, you’re ensuring the best possible chance of converting the Middle East guest to your website into your next customer.
Tip 3: Develop a tone guideline
By developing a tone guideline, you ensure that the tone and message from your company is never lost on consumers from the Middle East market. Enlisting the services of a professional linguist means that you’re ensuring your Middle East localization is always of high-quality, but most importantly, is always consistent.
Tip 4: Image localization
Not only should the language for your target audience be appropriate, the images used by your business should also be taken into consideration. There have been instances in the Middle East market where images can be taken out of context and may cause offense to others. By enlisting the services of a native linguist, you can always ensure that all content you wish to use for the Middle East is appropriate.
With all the tips above, creating an international localization strategy can be just as easy as working on your local content. It’s just a case of getting the small details right to take advantage of the global opportunity.