The mobile landscape saw growth across the board in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) in 2022, with app store spending increasing 10.3% year-on-year to $3.1 billion according to Data.ai’s State of Mobile MENA 2023 report.
Daily time spent grew 3% to 4.5%, while new downloads increased a massive 45.7% to 13.8 billion - an average of 26,200 apps downloaded per minute.
Users in Saudi Arabia proved to be the most engaged of the country’s key mobile-first markets (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, and Israel), with an average of 5.5 hours spent on their phones per day - a full hour more than users in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates who each averaged 4.5 hours per day. Over the past four years, time spent in-app grew 74% in the country.
However, in the wider MENAP (Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan) region, Saudi Arabia was eclipsed in terms of hours spent in game. Pakistan came in sixth place in terms of time spent worldwide, with a cumulative 161.2 billion hours spent in game, compared to 27.4 million hours in Saudi Arabia, which was ranked as 28th in the list.
Pakistan also saw strong growth in terms of downloads, increasing 35% year-on-year to 3.5 billion. This was followed by Saudi Arabia at 1.7 billion and Algeria at 1.1 billion.
Consumer spend on gaming in the GCC market - the political and economic alliance between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman - fell 15% to $904 million year-on-year, reflecting a worldwide decline in the mobile gaming industry following the pandemic. Downloads also dropped 2% across the region to one billion.
The hypercasual genre proved to be the most popular in the MENA region with 2.6 billion downloads, a growth of 28.4%. The genre accounted for 31% of all downloads. This was followed by the simulation genre at 18%, with 1.5 billion downloads. Only one other genre, Action, exceeded 10% of downloads with 11%.
In terms of consumer spend, the strategy genre proved to be the most successful in the region, accounting for $399.2 million in in-app spending, representing 21% of the total. This was followed by the shooting genre at $280.4 million.
Subway Surfers proved to be a particular success in terms of installs, topping the download charts in seven countries and coming in second place in two more. However, PUBG Mobile was the standout in terms of MAU - topping the charts in six markets - and consumer spending, where it came number one in eight countries throughout the region.
Last month, Data.ai reported that 98% of all app store spend comes from one time purchases.