When seeking to target any region of the world online it is a good idea to have an understanding of which regional search engines you need to target. This is no different when targeting countries in the Middle East. Unlike many other regions in the world the Middle East does not have an alternative to Google that dominates the region. Despite this there are some important observations to make about Middle East Search Engines that we will go into more detail about here.
Who are the top search players in the Middle East?
As mentioned previously Google maintains the lion’s share of the market. For example in Saudi Arabia Google has about 95% of the search market whereas Bing and Yahoo makeup about 4% of the market. In Egypt, Google has even more of a market share at 97%.
Here is a list of Google search engines by Arabic Speaking country.
Algeria – www.google.dz
Bahrain – www.google.com.bh
Egypt – www.google.com.eg
Iraq – Google.com.iq
Kuwait – www.google.com.kw
Lebanon – www.google.com.lb
Libya – www.google.com.ly
Morocco – www.google.co.ma
Oman – www.google.com.om
Palestine – www.google.ps
Qatar – www.google.com.qa
Saudi Arabia – www.google.com.sa
Syria – N/A
Tunisia – www.google.tn
United Arab Emirates – www.google.ae
Yemen – N/A
Despite Google’s clear domination in the region there are some important notes to make about other search engines.
Yahoo has had a strong market presence in the region for quite some time. In 2009 Yahoo acquired Maktoob, which is a popular web portal in the region that offers services ranging from search, to email, to auctions, and more. As with other regions in the world they have a relatively large Ad network in the Middle East.
Microsoft has had a strong reputation in the region across a variety of industries for a long time. Though Bing isn’t popular as a search engine, Hotmail, which is owned by Microsoft, has been and remains very popular in the region. Many Arabs have clung to old Hotmail accounts despite the availability of superior email services like Gmail.
Strictly Arabic Search Engines
There are three transliteration search engines for Arabic speakers that were all launched about 5 or 6 years ago when the Arabic language support on many devices was poor. Arab searchers type a query into the engine in Latin letters, which are then transliterated into Arabic. Most of these transliteration search engines are in decline as most devices and platforms have much better Arabic support than they did half a decade ago.
Below are the three most popular transliteration search engines in the region.
Failed Search Engines in the MENA Region
Additionally, there have been several failed attempts at Arabic search engines that include names such as Araby.com, Eb7ath, and Marweb. There will likely be more attempts as well, all claiming to be the “first Arabic only search engine.” However, for a new Arabic search engine to succeed it will have to offer something that Google can’t and that doesn’t appear to be likely any time soon. Google is investing heavily in Arabic search and it even has started investing in encouraging others to produce more Arabic content online.