DUBAI: Adspend levels climbed by almost 25% in the Middle East and North Africa in the first quarter of this year, new figures have shown.

According to a report from the Pan Arab Research Centre, advertising expenditure in the region rose by 22% in the opening three months of 2010 year-on-year to $2.28bn (£1.5bn; €1.7bn).

This followed on from the uptick of 11% recorded over the course of 2009 as a whole, despite the challenges of the financial crisis.

Pan-Arab media expenditure continued to dominate among marketers in Q1 this year, delivering $1.2bn in ad sales, an increase of 30% year-on-year.

In contrast, the United Arab Emirates – the Middle East's biggest national advertising market – registered a contraction of 4% to $341m.

While the government, financial services, personal care and retail sectors heightened their outlay in Q1, this did not offset major declines in the real estate, entertainment and automotive categories.

As such, the UAE was overtaken by Egypt, which generated a total of $387m from January to March, an improvement of 65% compared with the same period last year.

Saudi Arabia, in third, saw returns jump by 3% to $255m, with Kuwait also up by 21% to $229m, and Qatar by 10% to $105m.

Bahrain experienced growth of 43%, while revenues expanded by 24% in Lebanon, 18% in Jordan and 1% in Oman, with these markets varying in value from a high of $96m to a low of $31m.

Eddy Moutran , chairman/ceo of Memac Ogilvy & Mather, argued the improved political climate in countries like Lebanon and Jordan was one factor behind the positive trend in the area.

"Since politics play an important role in decision-making, the stability of those markets gets businesses to spend more, and this is what has been happening."

"Because of that, the Levant is currently seeing a double-digit growth. Meanwhile, the Gulf will also see growth, but in single digits, probably between 5% and 10%."

Data sourced from Emirates Business; additional contact by Warc staff