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London Chamber
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Market Research in the Middle East

Market Research in Middle East can provide marketers with an opportunity to understand the current growth trends and consumer needs.

The countries that are typically considered part of Middle East includes Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Palestinian Territories, Oman, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Cyprus and Bahrain.

Among them, Middle Eastern markets are highly diverse. Beyond Arabic, Persian and Turkish are other two commonly spoken languages in the region. The region contains economies which range from socialist economies to free market economies, providing additional complexity in understanding the region as a whole.

Oil and Gas Opportunities

The most significant support for the region’s economy comes from oil production industry, both in terms of revenues and labor movement. However, countries like Turkey, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Iran are taking measures to diversify their economies.


Iran has a largest number of diverse industries. The country has nearly 40 established industries that include agriculture, telecommunication, automotive, petrochemicals, mining, banking, and financial services. Turkey is also going through reforms to privatize, industrialize, and diversify major economic industries in order to become a member of European Union.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is recently placing a greater emphasis on investments in the education sector owing to the fact that a large segment of its population is under the age of 15. Countries such as Egypt and Libya heavily depend on tourism to support their economies.

The United Arab Emirates


The United Arab Emirates is one of the most modern, diversified economies in the region. The country is largely dependent on foreign investments and tourism, and offers free trade agreements, no taxes, and complete ownership to foreign investors to encourage them. Israel is another highly developed state in the region which ranks as the 15th highest developed country in the world according to the Human Development Index.

The Middle East presents new opportunities with growing populations, improving infrastructure and numerous growing industries.

The region is a major Oil producing area, helping to fuel growth in the region. Though Global oil prices plummeted in 2015, many economies were spared sharp economic downturn due to prudent reserves set aside for just such an eventuality.

Despite fluctuating oil prices, Middle Eastern countries as a whole still show strong growth rates. High population growth rates, economic liberalization programs and increasingly favorable investment landscapes make the Middle East a rising destination for Foreign Investment.

Economies in the Middle East are diversifying and making strides in the Global Economy.  Companies in the region have recently expanded globally such as Dubai Ports World, Emirates Airline and Saudi Aramco.

Middle Eastern markets are characterized by high population growth rates, leading to growing consumer markets.  Younger populations can mean increased interest in Apps, Media, and Education.

Social unrest often leads to sectarianism which can disrupts nations and their economies. In the case of the Middle East, it is the cause of much oil price volatility. Continued political reforms and regional initiatives that unite the countries of the Middle East with shared trade investments will assist in easing societal tensions in the region. In addition, developing private sector revenue streams not dependent on oil will also be imperative in the future.

Economic Hot Spots

Economic Hot Spots in the region currently include Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Istanbul, Doha and Manama.  Gulf markets are working to build vibrant cities and are creating specially-zoned urban areas that are targeted to strategic growth industries, such as Education, Healthcare and Financial Services.  Already, some universities from the United States and Europe have built university campuses in the region, seeking to educate talented students. Tourism is also growing in markets such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Gulf States have also launched programs to attract sporting events.  Global sporting events like the FIFA World Cup, WWE Wrestling, F1 Grand Prix, Golf championships and World Rugby Sevens Series have hosted or plan to host major events in the region.


Opportunities for investment and profitable business ventures are still plentiful in the Middle East.  Major drivers of international investment reside in the Hospitality, Construction, and Real Estate industries. Egypt is thought to be stabilizing while Morocco has improved export and tourism revenues. Kuwait and Qatar have weathered the oil price drop with little or no visible downturn. With petroleum prices expected to rise in the next couple of years, there is little reason to believe the Middle East won’t continue to present excellent business opportunities.

Middle East Market Review 

While there are a number of common factors influencing all economies in the Middle East to various extents, the diversity in the region’s construction industry makes it difficult to draw broad conclusions and forecasts. Unsurprisingly, oil prices continue to have a significant impact on growth, along with geopolitical tensions, global trade tensions, and global macroeconomic performance as a whole. Despite sluggish growth in the region over the last few years, economic expansion within the GCC states is expected to reach 2.4% in 2018 and 3% in 2019 according to the IMF, supported by higher oil prices, a slower pace of fiscal consolidation and the implementation of public investment projects. 

Since hitting a ten-year low in January 2016, oil prices have improved considerably, rising from below US$30 per barrel to around US$85 in October 2018, before falling back to US$50 per barrel in January 2019. This growth has been supported by extended production cuts by both OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers, along with global oil supply disruptions, particularly in Venezuela and Iran. Most government budgets have now been adjusted to consider between US$50 to US$60 per barrel the average. Needless to say, higher oil prices will provide regional governments with an opportunity to peruse strategic projects and appraise some of the previously proposed austerity measures, which in turn will support growth. With that said, as the future of oil prices faces significant uncertainty, so too does the growth outlook for oil exporters.