The era of content economy in the Middle East

A new era has dawned in the online ecosystem with the digital content economy expanding and fostering new stars and talents, exponentially enhancing the potential for never-ending material. Content creators are now a new breed of professionals who are growing rapidly in numbers, creating content ranging from education, food, travel and music to comedy and beauty. The proliferation of content makers, whether they are from upscale urban areas or far-flung, peaceful hamlets, can also be attributed to the accessibility of smartphones.

The Middle East’s regional content economy has been gaining steady traction and it is expected that soon this space will become one of the mainstream careers, particularly in the GCC countries, where in the governments have implemented stringent copyright and intellectual property laws. An upsurge has been noticed in the Arab youth who have increasingly embraced video-based social platforms owing to the expanding demand for homegrown content. The Middle East & North Africa region (MENA) has witnessed a boom in digital content creation owing to the transition of users’ content consumption behaviour. According to the statistics, there are over fifty-nine million residents in the GCC, out of which 98.8 per cent are active on social media making the GCC market an attractive opportunist space for digital content creators, especially in the entertainment category.

Social media has been a key factor contributing to the increasing content creation opportunities with millions of users becoming creators in their own convenience, creating paid content and earning a livelihood. There are thousands of content creation platforms that offer a wide range of opportunities from design, video, streaming and music to podcasts and written content, among many others. Sites like Facebook and Instagram are not just about sharing with close ones, but it has turned into an advertising platform.

Last year, the debut edition of VidCon Abu Dhabi was held, where top digital content creators from around the world converged into one platform to discuss, share and inspire ideas for the development of this space. Startups, creators and executives from platforms like TikTok, Snap, Vice, Anghami, Samsung, Netflix, Instagram and Twitch came together and shared their strategies for success in the digital content space. There are more and more content creators emerging in the MENA region, especially since the pandemic, as demand for entertainment and content saw an upsurge as people were inside four walls during the lockdown.

While the content creation space has been highly competitive and saturated, it has over 50 million independent creators and is valued at USD 20 billion in 2021, with a projected growth to USD 104.2 billion market this year, according to Forbes. The rise in the number of content creators has reached a high point with the ease of internet access across the globe, as well as shared passion that has brought together different individuals to create various content creation organizations.

There is a competitive race in the vibrant online content creation market, with creators spending hours of the day to make engaging content. In recent years, especially during and after the pandemic, the internet served as a major source of information, knowledge and entertainment for the masses. This gave a boost to content creators as well as social media platforms, which gave ample means to creators in monetizing their talent and reaching out to a wide global audience. Content creators have enjoyed unlimited freedom in expressing their passion through their content and a large number have successfully managed to achieve a close and active relationship with their audiences, creating a solid fan base.

Existing popularity has increased the competition in this space, as film and TV stars, already-famous celebs in different spaces of the industry, are easily gaining traction in the content space, without having to put as much effort as regular content creators do to gain popularity. But this hasn’t stopped the increase, and more and more brands are encouraging promising and upcoming talents in this space by sponsoring their videos or advertising their products and services through the creator’s content.

The future for the content economy in the MENA regions looks promising with the media landscape making a drastic transition. The rise of mobile connectivity has changed the way of content consumption in the region. There has been a sharp uptick in the MENA online audience with the growing youth, educated and tech-savvy Arab population, presenting unlimited opportunities to foster digital content creation. Mobile technology and digital media has become one of the hottest marketplaces in the region and has resulted in the decline of traditional marketing ideas, with consumers being more aware than ever before.

Creators have become a dominant force in culture, society and commerce as well, with industries following suit by supporting their endeavours. The lure of the creation space has been hard to resist and the potential of high income, lavish lifestyles and a work culture free of restraints has accelerated its rise. For major brands and organisations, they are capturing the opportunity to piggyback on the fame and trust that the content creators have garnered from their followers, and push their products through endorsements.

With social media, companies and major conglomerates investing considerably on creators, it is surely to experience a massive boom in the coming years. Bigger brands are partnering with creators and contributing to their success, attracting more and more individuals towards this space. The content creation landscape is witnessing increased competition, and as the years go by, it will continue to trickle into more and more industries, despite its size, around the world.

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