Now that we’ve already established that MENA may be a promised land for companies offering IT-related services such as web or mobile development, it’s time to dig a bit deeper and explore the technological opportunities and challenges it offers.
Current tech trends
- High smartphone usage
According to the report on the UAE’s mobile infrastructure, broadbands, and operators, the mobile penetration rate in the United Arab Emirates is among the highest in the world. As of 2013, 3 in 4 people in the Emirates owned a smartphone which made this country the world smartphone leader.
Almost seven years have passed since and now over 20 million Saudi Arabians use their mobile phones to access the Internet. What’s more, if you look at the global mobile connectivity in 2019, you’ll surely find the UAE’s result impressive. Given the demographics in the region (50% of the population is under 24), the tech-native and savvy youth in the Middle East will only further boost the digital adoption rate in the coming years.
Source: Global Digital 2019 report
Speaking of the high smartphone usage, it would be a shame not to mention 5G which is said to account for 16% of total mobile connections in the Gulf states by 2025. Why am I mentioning it in the context of software development in the Middle East? Because the advanced wireless technology will encourage the implementation of top-notch technologies in building mixed reality, e-sport, and digital experiences of all sorts.
- Digital transformation
Five years ago, the adoption of new technologies on the business side was a bit slow. Back in 2014, 18% of small and midsize enterprises in the United Arab Emirates, 15% in Saudi Arabia, and a mere 7% in Egypt had an online presence.
These days, however, the digital transformation is gaining momentum in the Middle East with a lot of companies seeking to adopt innovative technologies such as AI, IoT, big data or cloud solutions. And there are some solid figures to prove this claim. According to TechRadar, approximately 30% of large enterprises are currently subject to digital transformation – all to become operationally efficient, more agile, create new experiences for customers, and secure new revenue streams.
- The rapidly growing startup scene
Another fact worth mentioning in the context of software development-related trends in the Middle East is that the MENA region is a rich breeding ground for new startups from all verticals. Just think about Careem which took the radio cab industry by storm or Mumzworld that has been named the best baby and child site in the Middle East – these are definitely good examples of startups’ capability to improve the quality of people’s lives.
The monetary statistics are pretty impressive in the startup field as well. According to The National, almost 900 million US dollars were invested in 386 Middle Easternnstartups in the MENA region in 2018 – and if you visit Menabytes.com, you’ll see that these numbers are growing every day.
MENA startups supported buy 500 Startups’ regional Falcons Fund.
Source: State of MENA Startups 2019
It’s clear that interest in technology startups is skyrocketing; however, many freshly minted entrepreneurs find it hard to succeed because of the skills gap in the local software development market. And that brings me to the next part of this article...
Skills gap: the main challenge of software development in the Middle East
The Internet speed and the number of online users in the Middle East are growing three times faster than in the USA and twice as quickly as in China. MENA’s citizens are increasingly investing in hi-tech solutions and expensive smartphones which enable them to browse the Internet from anywhere, at any time. It’s a huge opportunity for new tech businesses as well as software development companies and app development firms. At the same time, however, the UAE market is lacking experienced developers capable of handling complex digital projects.
At Merixstudio, we’re quite often receiving messages from the UEA’s clients who decided to outsource their software development and are looking for the top custom software development company in Poland. Why is this happening? “I can’t find any experienced Django Developer in our region,” said one of our current clients from the Middle East.
According to the UAE Employment Report, only 11% of the interviewees believe a job in IT and Computing to be their future ideal role. The survey also shows that nationally strategic areas are much more attractive for Emirati candidates. It’s clear that governments across MENA consider private sector development to be a strategic goal. However, when given a choice between the public and private sectors, many of the UEA’s people go for the former. On top of that, the Digital McKinsey’s research states that the share of the Middle East workforce in the global digital talent pool is twice smaller than that of the United States – it’s just 1.7% compared to 3.8% in the US.
Source: UAE Employment Report by Oxford Strategic Consulting
At the same time, the increase in the number of IT projects in the MENA region leads to the growing demand for software development professionals with superb IT skills. In this light, the fact that software developers are in short supply is highly problematic for both startup founders and CEOs of large enterprises.
Hiring talent is the no. 2 challenge that keeps startup founders up at night.
Source: State of MENA Startups 2019
IT outsourcing: the answer to MENA software development needs
So what can you do if you’re about to get your new tech startup off the ground or launch a complex digital project in the Middle East and you’re in need of a talented web developer? IT outsourcing turns out to be a viable choice in this case.
There are a lot of reasons why you should consider outsourcing web development instead of hiring an in-house team – especially if it’s really hard, pricey, and time-consuming to find an experienced web developer in your region. If you aren’t sure about the budget you need to gather first, be sure to check out our article explaining how much should you pay for high-quality code. One of the things it’ll tell you is that the price depends on the location. Thus, whether you are a small or big fish on the market looking to hire top software developers, Eastern Europe and destinations like Poland will be the best bet for you.
Companies from all over the world come to Poland for a number of reasons. One of them is a small time-zone difference. For example, there’s just a two-hour difference between Poland and Dubai or Abu Dhabi, and only one hour when it comes to Riyadh. However, the most important reason why MENA-based businesses should consider Poland as the outsourcing destination is flexibility and the talent pool of young devs who are hired by international companies because of their excellent communication skills and great knowledge. If you look at ranks like Clutch.co’s Leaders Matrix you’ll see that many top software development companies come from Poland indeed.
Clutch’s Top Python & Django Developers – and look who’s no 1! Source: Clutch. co (15.12.2019)
In need of outsourcing IT services to get your business off the ground? Check out what we have to offer.