Middle East Smartphone Market Achieves 24% Growth in Q4 2023: Canalys

Canalys Research says smartphone shipments in the Middle East (excluding Turkey) have reached 12.2 million units in the fourth quarter of 2023, marking a 24 percent increase compared to the previous year.
smartphone market in Middle East in 2023This surge in shipments in the Middle East contributed to a year-long growth trend, with total shipments reaching 42.5 million units throughout 2023, representing an 11 percent rise from 2022.

Samsung (14.5 million), Transsion (7.6 million), Xiaomi  (6.1 million), Apple (5.6 million), Honor (1.9 million), Others (6.9 million) are the leading smartphone makers in 2023.

Saudi Arabia and UAE Drive Growth

During the fourth quarter of 2023, Saudi Arabia witnessed 28 percent surge in smartphone shipments, reaching 3.6 million units. This growth was propelled by robust economic expansion and a thriving tourism sector that attracted 27 million foreign visitors throughout the year, marking an increase of 11 million international tourists compared to 2022.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) experienced 22 percent expansion in smartphone shipments during the same period. This growth was attributed to heightened consumer engagement in end-of-season sales events such as the Dubai Shopping Festival, as well as promotions like Black Friday and Yellow Friday offered by online retailers Amazon and Noon. Additionally, the launch of new smartphone models by various vendors played a significant role in driving this growth.
Share in smartphone market in Middle East in 2023

Iraq’s Surging Market Despite Economic Challenges

Iraq’s smartphone market witnessed an impressive 86 percent growth in Q4 2023, despite facing rising restrictions on US dollar cash withdrawals by local banks, exacerbating a shortage and driving up the parallel market exchange rate. Vendors like TRANSSION and Xiaomi are targeting younger demographics with marketing campaigns, focusing on smartphones with appealing designs, advanced technology, and affordable prices.

Market Insights and Future Outlook

According to Canalys Senior Consultant Manish Pravinkumar, Xiaomi, HONOR, and TRANSSION have emerged as leaders in the Sub-US$200 category, reflecting a shift in consumer purchasing patterns amid rising living costs. Pravinkumar highlighted Xiaomi’s expanded offline presence in the region and HONOR’s strategy of launching flagship devices alongside successful models in the Honor XA/B series.

Looking ahead, there is optimism for further growth in the Middle East smartphone market in 2024, as regional economic activity continues to improve. Short-term forecasts indicate that channel partners are eager to replenish inventory, which was instrumental in the market’s significant recovery in late 2023.

Moreover, the introduction of a unified GCC tourist visa, expected in 2024 or 2025, is anticipated to boost visitors, benefiting various sectors, particularly tourism-related services and technology.

Vendors seeking to expand in the region are advised to prioritize the establishment of stronger channel partnerships and continuously enhance their on-ground capabilities to ensure profitability through improved product offerings.