Google brings $3 billion to the Saudi economy


Google and its platforms contribute to the development of the digital economy in the Middle East, and over the past 24 years the company has become a part of the internet backbone of the modern era.

Many people and companies in the Middle East rely on tools like search, maps, Google Ads, Google Play Store and YouTube to earn.

For example, the Iraqi creator known as Chef Shaheen over the past five years has amassed nearly 3 million followers on YouTube.

The UAE-based chef has racked up over 251 million views on his channel, thanks to his short and whimsical videos where he recreates his favorite recipes.

And last month, Shaheen was able to leverage his influence online. And open an actual business. The young chef posted a video on his social media channels on April 16, announcing the opening of his first restaurant, Yaba, in Dubai.

And while young entrepreneurs like Chef Shaheen are benefiting from Google’s suite of earning apps, Google’s contribution to the economy is emerging across the Middle East.

Google contributed to the three largest economies in the Arab world, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt.

Bringing $3 billion into the Saudi economy

Its biggest impact was in Saudi Arabia, where the company created about 12.2 billion Saudi riyals (or $3.25 billion) for economic activity in Saudi Arabia in 2021, with the Android developer ecosystem supporting at least 29,000 jobs in the kingdom each year.

The total number of developers making more than 37,500 Saudi riyals ($10,000) per month or more through its Android App Store grew by 15%.

Google says the general rise in e-commerce by Saudi residents has boosted the kingdom’s digital economy, marking a turning point for a country that has traditionally been reluctant to shop online.

29% of the Saudi business sector started advertising online for the first time since the beginning of the epidemic (reaping 8 Saudi riyals, or $2.13 on average, in earnings per riyal spent via Google ads).

And 72% of people in the kingdom used a Google search to find the latest public health information about the coronavirus. 64 % of parents (with children under the age of 12) turn to YouTube Kids to support their children’s learning.

75% have also used Google search to learn a new skill in the past year. While  61% of people in Saudi Arabia used a Google search to find a new job opportunity.

An average of 5 million women use Google searches every month to find a new job. While 66% of people used Google Maps to find a local business.

And 52% of companies reported an increase in customers from online search or search advertising in the past two years. And 67% of online businesses said Google Workspace was necessary to enable remote work.

Google’s economy is growing in the Middle East

Google’s economy in the UAE is the second largest in the region. It added an estimated AED 11.3 billion (or $3.08 billion) to the country’s overall economy that year.

While e-commerce played a role in Google’s contributions, content creators and programmers were also involved.

The company says its Android developer ecosystem supports 50,000 jobs in the UAE. YouTube content creators have also become a growing force in the UAE’s digital economy .

The number of YouTube channels achieving six figures or more in the UAE increased by 40% compared to the previous year.

The tech giant also brought about 11.2 billion Egyptian pounds ($609 million) to economic activity in Egypt.

Nearly 4.5 million users accessed the internet in Egypt between January 2020 and 2021. This pushed the e-commerce penetration rate in the country to 3.6% in 2021.

85,000 programmers have also relied on Google’s Android developer ecosystem, surpassing even the United Arab Emirates.

In October 2020, the search giant announced a $13 million fund. The fund aims to help one million people and companies in the Middle East and North Africa learn advanced digital skills and grow their businesses by the end of 2021.

The program also aims to accelerate economic recovery in the Middle East and North Africa region through digital transformation. This is done by providing digital tools, training, and financial grants to support local businesses and job seekers.

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