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Did you know that business messaging is a rapidly growing industry in the Middle East? CBO of SAMA Telecom Mariam Shaer shares an overview of the recent webinar, Sponsored by SAMA, titled “Business Messaging: What’s happening in the Middle East” where she was joined by panellists from some of the major telco groups and OTT players in  the region; Omantel, Vodafone, E& and Rakuten Viber.

Growth Trends and Pillars of Business Messaging in MENA Region

The event was a resounding success with the healthy participation of an audience from all across to learn about growth opportunities and challenges in the MENA region. We believe it was an insightful and unique webinar on business messaging specific to our region.

During the Webinar, I had an opportunity to share insights including robust growth trends in comparison to the rest of the world, pillars of growth, market size, and key players.

Collaboration: Key Driver for Growth in Business Messaging

I stressed the collaborative approach as the key driver to ensure growth. “Success in business messaging business can only be achieved through a collaborative approach which includes the full ecosystem i.e., enterprises, telcos, technology, and aggregators to fulfil the best customer experience considering their safety on the top. With visionary leadership, appropriate Govt policies, agility, adaptability to innovation and technology, the Middle East possesses the necessary attributes to see significant growth in business messaging.”

With visionary leadership, appropriate Govt policies, agility, adaptability to innovation and technology, the Middle East possesses the necessary attributes to see significant growth in business messaging.

It was exciting to learn how all the speakers were engaging the audience with their expertise on different topics and challenges in the region namely different commercial models, authentication channels, regulatory policies, grey route challenges, and OTTs plans. It was also mentioned that all stakeholders should continue to strive for the best customer experience and formulate their policies accordingly.

Challenges Faced by the Business Messaging Industry in the Middle East

Nadir Patel, GM Carrier and Roaming Services at Omantel, emphasized that ‘’the Messaging ecosystem has to broaden its scope by focusing on the untapped enterprise market focusing on the SME and growing individual entrepreneurs, offer unified communication options in the market through partnerships and making communication channels accessible, simple and hassle-free. Regulations and registration processes need to be simplified to encourage genuine growth and industry players need to work together to flush out the grey traffic.”

Viber’s Perspective on Chat Apps and Collaboration

Cristina Constandache, CRO of Rakuten Viber, stated that “Participating in the MEF’s Middle East: What’s happening with Business Messaging webinar was an insightful experience. The discussion provided a wealth of knowledge on the latest developments in the Middle Eastern market, with a great focus on innovations. Chat apps are gaining popularity among customers and brands in the Middle East and Viber sees this as a potential for collaboration. Telecommunications companies, such as Sama Telecom, already offer connectivity as a service, supporting a variety of channels. Cooperation between MNOs, telecom providers, messaging apps, and enterprises is the natural way forward to create convenient omnichannel customer experiences and grow revenues.”

Seamless and Secure Customer Experience

Tamara Al Bakri, Head of Roaming and Interconnect at Vodafone Qatar highlighted that “Seamless, fast, flexible, and secure channels are what the customers expect. Operators and providers must understand the customers’ preferences and offer the right channels that best align with the interest of each segment. Messaging grabs consumer attention faster than other tools used for marketing, with more than 98% open rate puts the messaging channel as one of the leading trusted channels, in my opinion, monetization and reasonable pricing strategy define the lifetime of this channel.”

A2P/P2P Messaging: Here to Stay

Gabriela Ghencea, Senior Manager Mobility Sales at e& added that “While new technologies created new opportunities, SMS services don’t need internet, technical knowledge and they keep people connected. With the exponential increase in the number of mobile phones in addition to the growth, reach, and customer engagement A2P messaging provided, it looks like A2P / P2P is here to stay and guarantee that our customers remain our priority. As a leading MNO in the region, we are creating the right eco-system for our partners in collaboration with the regulatory department, to provide reliable, direct, and secure channels to reach their end-users.”

Importance of the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) for the Middle East

Back to the importance of MEF, James Williams, Director of Programs, stated that “It’s fantastic to see growing representation from companies located in the Middle East across the Mobile Ecosystem Forum community. It’s clear that the Business Messaging market in the region, whilst strong and growing faster than the average across the globe, is facing its fair share of challenges.

The neutral platform MEF offers all its members to collaborate, share industry best practices and indeed educate all stakeholders is valuable and can be leveraged to great effect to counter the challenges detailed by all participants in the webinar, in all their forms. We look forward to continuing to welcome more organizations from the Middle East to MEF!”

Conclusion: Unlocking the Full Potential of Business Messaging in the Middle East

We are grateful to all the speakers for their participation and sharing insights. We look forward to organizing similar webinars or round-tables specific to the region or exciting topics in the future as it is important to conduct such webinars. Let’s delve deeper into the Middle East market and unlock its full potential by sharing our knowledge and insights.

Mariam Shaer

CBO Sama Telecom