Arab Internet penetration among world highest, but patent-number low

Arab Internet penetration among world highest, but patent-number low
3 min read
30 Mar, 2016
More than half of the Arab region's population will be connected in the next two years, new research has revealed, but few patents have been granted to Arab world residents.
Arab internet users could increase to nearly 226 million by 2018 [Moment Mobile]

The number of internet users in the Arab World is expected to rise to nearly 226 million by 2018, a new study revealed on Tuesday.

According to the Arab Knowledge Economy 2015/2016 report, released by Orient Planet Research at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Dubai, the internet penetration rate will jump from about 37.5 percent in 2014 to over 55 percent in 2018, or about 7 percent above the estimated world average of 3.6 billion users.

The report is a research study that provides insights and statistics on the region's information-driven economic framework in the context of its dynamic and ever-expanding economy.

It sheds light on major trends impacting the market within the region as well as other key indicators, providing a strong overview of various factors affecting the knowledge economy sector.

"The Arab World is in the midst of change following a number of social and political upheavals," said Orient Planet research consultant Abdul Kader al-Kamli.

"In the face of these dynamic reforms, many countries within the region continue to make great strides in their efforts to shift to a knowledge-based economy, marking a noticeable improvement in knowledge society indicators," he added.

The study ranked Dubai among the world's top 10 cities in digital governance, beating world capitals, including London, Oslo, Stockholm and Vienna in 2014.

Bahrain registered the highest internet user penetration at 74.15 per cent and Kuwait ranked highest for mobile penetration at 194.62 per cent.

The presence of Arabic content was also studied, particularly through Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia which allows any individual to add or edit its content.

Wikipedia was launched in January 2001 in its original English version, followed by a French version and subsequently in hundreds of other languages. As of October 2015, Wikipedia boasted customized versions in 291 languages, including Arabic, and in total hosted more than 34 million articles.

Since its inception till the end of 2014, a total of only 2,339 patents were granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to residents of Arab countries.

Moreover, the report noted that online shopping in the Middle East has witnessed high growth in the past few years, and has subsequently encouraged global investments into the region's e-commerce market.

"We are optimistic that the data being presented in this edition of the Arab Knowledge Economy Report will serve as a point of reference for public and private organizations in the region as they develop their strategy for the coming years," Kamli said.

According to Orient Planet Group managing director Nidal Abou Zaki, considerable improvement has been made across health, and service delivery, among other sectors.

However, the report noted the region needed greater emphasis on research and development.

"Since its inception till the end of 2014, a total of only 2,339 patents were granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to residents of Arab countries," it said.

"To put this number into context, the total number of patents granted by the USPTO in 2014 alone reached 300,678."

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt have posted 1152, 370 and 257 patents respectively in all registered years, the report noted.