Complex Made Simple

Living smart in the Middle East

Here we look at how people living in the Middle East - Saudi Arabia and the UAE to be precise - are interacting with smart technology

The idea of a fully connected smart home is one that holds great appeal to many 63% of people living in the UAE have privacy concerns related to smart devices Smart security systems, blinds, and fridges hold the most appeal for people in this region

‘Alexa, what is the weather today?’ A decade ago it seemed far-fetched to ask an electronic device this question. Today it is part of the morning routine in households around the world as smart devices become more commonplace.

It can’t be understated how ubiquitous smart gadgets are. As we know, smartphones have become a way of life for most people around the world. Borderless Access has gathered data on which smart devices we use and how we feel about them. Here we look at how people living in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia and the UAE to be precise – are interacting with smart technology.

 Middle Easterners are particularly receptive to new technologies

Smart devices extend into myriad technologies such as lights, cameras, and blinds that can be controlled via your smartphone or autonomous cars. The extent to which people are adopting any of these technologies is variable. More than three out of four people interviewed own a smart TV, however, only 5% own smart blinds.

People living in the Middle East like trying new technologies that may make their lives easier. Globally, people are interested in smart security, fridges, and lights. Middle Easterners are also interested in these technologies, however, in the UAE, the most-wanted smart device is a fridge while in Saudi Arabia a third of all respondents are interested in smart blinds. Smart ovens appeal to people in both countries.

Why go smart?

Around the world, and this pattern follows in the Middle East, people find smart technology convenient and beneficial to their daily lives. It has environmental benefits too. Imagine living in the Middle East and being able to have the blinds in your home close automatically when a sensor or setting tells them to: Your home would be cooler when you arrive home, requiring less energy needed to run air conditioners to make it comfortable. No wonder 35% of Saudi Arabians are interested in this technology.

The market potential of creating smart homes

The idea of a fully connected smart home -where all smart devices are connected and controlled via your phone or tablet – is one that holds great appeal to many. This is an enormous emerging market, with only 14% of people globally saying they are not interested in creating a smart-connected home for themselves.

In the UAE, 79% of people say they have already started creating a smart home or plan to start doing so; 76% of Saudi Arabians say the same.

Privacy worries heightened in the UAE

When it comes to smart devices, privacy is a double-edged sword. Telemetry helps to quickly improve a product for users’ benefit. Globally, however, almost half of all people (jumping to 63% of people living in the UAE) have privacy concerns related to smart devices.

People would like to know where their data is stored. Manufacturers need to be explicit about this information. How their personal data is managed and stored is of paramount importance for customers when selecting a brand to purchase.

Learning points

People in the Middle East are highly enthusiastic about smart technology and connecting these to form smart homes. Smart security systems, blinds, and fridges hold the most appeal for people in this region.  Currently, however, smart fridges and ovens have a small market presence, indicating a ripe opportunity for manufacturers to focus on promoting these items in this region.

Being upfront about what information is collected by a particular device, and how and where this is stored is key to growing the market for smart gadgets. As a raft of laws are being introduced globally about how and where personal data is stored, manufacturers themselves need to be transparent to win over customers.

For more information on how to initiate new industries and grow existing ones in the Middle East, reach out for Borderless Access here.