China's Huawei has had a significant presence in the region for quite some time, establishing its Middle East headquarters in Bahrain over 10 years ago and employing around 3,500 employees across 10 countries.
While most of its activities are focused on telecom networks and enterprise computing, the provider unveiled a series of mobile devices at last month's Gitex Technology Week in Dubai. AMEinfo has since spoken to Jiao Jian, President of Huawei Device Middle East.
"The Middle East is becoming a more sophisticated consumer market in which we feel more innovation in product and software design will be crucial as companies cater directly to more niche segments within the smartphone market," he says.
Nearly 45% of Huawei's 150,000 employees globally are engaged in the field of R&D; developing and testing new technologies, which could be a significant source of innovation within the high-end smartphone market.
Currently the world's sixth-biggest mobile phone manufacturer, the firm is looking to be the number three smartphone vendor by 2015 - growing from 5% to 15% market share in just three years.
"Our 2011 global sales revenues from devices were approximately $6.8 billion," says Jian, accounting for an impressive year-on-year increase of 50%.
"Huawei expects the device business to grow revenue by around a third this year to $9bn globally, and could reach $30bn in five years, matching our telecoms equipment business as a revenue driver. There is no one-size fits all, and we believe that local consumers will demand much more competitive models and pricing than what we have seen in the past several years."
ZTE look to capitalise on 4G/LTE
Perhaps not a household name in the Gulf, China's ZTE was the world's fifth largest manufacturer of smartphones in Q2, and fourth largest across all mobile phones during the three month period, according to IDC.
With critical deals with providers already in place, ZTE is well positioned to quickly expand Middle East operations. Having won contracts with Du to develop infrastructure in the UAE, ZTE plans to invest $60m into mobile and fixed networks in Dubai alone in the coming years, according to Wassim Mansour, ZTE's ME Vice President.
"We see a lot of potential on the network side with the development of 4G," Mansour tells AMEinfo. "We see a kind of fever coming now. We're talking about a real implementation of LTE, which will lead developments on the terminal side. The demand is growing for 4G smartphones and dongles, which have been available for more than 6 months."
The Grand series includes the Grand X, available on 4G and also a dual core handset, and the ZTE Blade has sold over 10 million units worldwide - now one of the most successful phones in Europe.
Since 2008 ZTE have provided a large variety of smartphones; low end, mid-level and high-end devices. Shawn Shang, ZTE's Marketing & Solution Director for Handsets makes it clear that the region is a high priority for growth.
"The Middle East has many redistributors and we want to cooperate with these channel resources to help us improve our growth here - 30 contracts are signed and 350,000 LTE phones have been sold so far [worldwide] but sights are set on the Middle East market," he says.
Lenovo to release smartphones by 2013-end in Mena
In Q3 of this year, China's Lenovo announced they had become the number one PC seller in its home country and were gunning to be the top smartphone vendor in China within 2013.