Middle East Update: Social Media, Beer, Jewelry & Other Necessary Vices

From Global Edge: Social Media Potential in the Middle East. While social media sites are becoming increasingly popular worldwide, there is one region in particular where social media has nearly unlimited growth potential. That region is the Middle East and although there has been much concern surrounding the use of social networks for protest demonstrations, social media sites provide great opportunities for businesses of the region. In the Middle East the number of social media users has already doubled in the past year. Almost sixty percent of firms in the Middle East have some sort of social media presence designed to build relationships with their potential customers or clients.

From Euromonitor: Middle East and Africa: Dynamic Beer Consumption Growth Continues. Emerging markets with strong beer volume growth have become a major focus for beer companies in recent years. Key players have been expanding their presence in Asia and Latin America, particularly in the largest Chinese and Brazilian markets, to capitalize on their dynamic volume growth, but rising beer consumption in the Middle East and Africa has also been offering growth opportunities for brewers.

In the six months to September 2011, SABMiller, the region’s leading brewer, reported 6% growth in its beer volumes in Africa (excluding South Africa), while second-ranked Heineken registered 8% organic growth for its Middle East and Africa region for the first nine months. Dynamic volume growth is expected to continue. According to Euromonitor International forecasts, beer in the Middle East and Africa is set to post a 5% volume CAGR over 2011-2016, making this the world’s fastest growing region.

Euromonitor as well: Opportunity Knocks When Designer Fashion Meets Luxury Hospitality. Having segmented successfully into jewelery, timepieces, eyewear, fragrances and home furnishings, Giorgio Armani, the Italian fashion guru, is trying his hand at luxury tourism real estate. It is a wily strategic gambit at a time when a big chunk of demand for luxury goods is coming from high net worth individuals (HNWI) in emerging markets, many with a penchant for travel and iconic designer brands.

The first Armani hotel opened in Dubai in April 2010, located in the Burj Khalifa tower, the tallest building in the world at 830 metres. It was the opening chapter of a project – in partnership with Emaar Properties, one of the biggest property developers in the Middle East – that will see the development of a cluster of high-end Armani hotels, resorts and residences in key locations around the world.

Also from Euromonitor: Rural Consumers in the Middle East and North Africa: Myths and Facts about a Forgotten Consumer Segment.  With a population of over 171 million in the rural Middle East and North Africa, the region represents a large reservoir of labour and a producer of food for the urban sector. Despite not being as well-heeled as their urban counterparts, these rural consumers make up for this with their sheer volume. With the rapid development of internet technology and the push for higher efficiency in agriculture, they may soon become a major consuming force.

According to the World Bank, more than 50% of food currently consumed in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is imported, making it the largest food-importing region in the world. High rates of population growth combined with severely constrained water and land resources suggest that this dependence on imports will increase or remain at current levels for the foreseeable future.

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