Digital Signage

Born to Grow - Trends and Drivers in the GCC market

Demand for Digital Signage continues to rise despite some economic roadblocks. The six year record low oil price dampens growth in the GCC: Hardest hit is Saud Arabia and Kuwait, but growth has softened also in the UAE. An invidis look behind the scenes with Marco Burkhardtsmayer, a Digital signage Distributor and project designer and Florian Rotberg / invidis consulting.
Digital Signage Gulf Outlook (Photo: invidis)
Digital Signage Gulf Outlook (Photo: invidis)

Growth forecast for the UAE and neighboring GCC markets has just been lowered by the IMF. But the World Bank is still expecting a growth of 3-3.5% for 2015/16. Most mature markets would love to record a growth rate of more than 3%, but the UAE is an emerging market. The low oil price followed a contraction of the properties market, is taking its toll. Marketing budgets are being frozen, new campaigns are postponed.

But demand for retail and consequently digital signage – especially in premium retail – is still very strong. New shopping malls are being added continuously and space is usually fully taken. Potential tenants are lining up to get hold of any retail space when it becomes available. What is the secret behind the insatiable demand for retail space?

The reasons for the strong demand are manifold: consumer spending continues to rise, population is growing and disposable income is still very high. Five retail conglomerates dominate the retail scene in the UAE. Retailer setting up shops in the UAE need to cooperate with one of the five conglomerates – regardless if they like it or nor. With one notable exception: Apple. The IT-company just managed to get an exception to operate two retail stores in Dubai (MoE) and Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi Mall) as a stand-alone business without local participation.

Besides retail – demand for digital signage is often driven by government activities. The rulers of Dubai or Abu Dhabi launch continuously new “smart city initiatives” enabling the market and often government owned developer to invest in new projects. Most notable projects are the Expo 2020 in Dubai, Sayed / Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and various infrastructure projects

Similar government driven initiatives are also driving demand in Qatar (FIFA World Cup 2022) or in Saudi Arabia (King Financial District, Metro in Riyadh). Next market will be Iran once the sanction have lifted and to a lesser extend Egypt.

“Business within the UAE is still growing. The visionary mindset of the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is keeping demand up. New infrastructure projects and his „vision of the smart city“offer multiple opportunities for digitalization projects.”

To learn more about the potential of digital signage and digital transformation in retail, transport and infrastructure sectors, visit DSS MENA. The Digital Signage Summit in Dubai takes place on 16 November 2015 at the Conrad Dubai. Tickets are available at

Marco Burkhardtsmayer is CEO of MuSe, a leading digital signage distributor for Grassfish digital signage software in the Middle East. German-born Marco supports the Austrian digital signage solution vendor in the GCC and supports AV integrator in creating engaging digital signage concepts.