The MENA region has a young population – more than 28% of the population is aged between 15 and 29 – and one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world. User rates continue to increase on social platforms and the rise of influencers shows no sign of slowing. This combination of factors makes the Middle East perfectly poised to be a leader in social selling, a Digitalks conference (Dubai, January 2018) heard.

Heba Al Samt, digital media director of TV and radio at Dubai Media Inc, noted how things have changed in the region over the past decade. “Back in 2009 when I co-founded the social media club here in Dubai, there was no digital media department in the government media office,” she said. “No one was on social media and things were a lot simpler. Now, everyone is on social media, including brands.”

But, she added, “it’s not always the right thing to do. People don’t understand social media. They [brands] think they need to be on it because everyone else is on it and because their competitors are on it but often they’re not using it in the right way.”