RIYADH: The advertising market in the Middle East is set to return to growth this year, having faced considerable challenges during the economic downturn.

According to figures from the Pan Arab Research Center, adspend levels in the United Arab Emirates, the area's biggest ad market, fell by more than a quarter during 2009.

Totals also contracted by 6% in Saudi Arabia, and as these two countries generate a considerable portion of regional revenues, conditions have proved considerably less favourable than in emerging economies like China and India.
More positively, Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group, the holding company, said on the sidelines of a conference in Riyadh that he expects the climate to become less severe going forward.
"I expect 2010 to show significant improvement and get us back to where we were around 2008," he argued.
At present, the Middle East delivers around 3% of WPP's annual revenues, equating to some $400 million (€284m; £248m) overall.
The organisation's key clients include two of the biggest advertisers in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Basic Industries and SAGIA, the government's foreign investment promotional body.
Sorrell has previously outlined WPP's intentions to increase the share of its sales generated in emerging markets from around a quarter to a third in the next five years.
Looking at the advertising industry more broadly, he suggested that there should be "some sequential improvement and some positive growth in the second quarter of 2010."

Data sourced from Reuters; additional content by Warc staff