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Middle East technology: The good, the bad and the ugly told in these key stats

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Uber is in the Middle East to stay, buys main rival
Uber acquires Middle East ride-hailing service Careem in $3.1 billion deal.

The Middle East and North Africa region is large and diverse, with a correspondingly complex relationship to changes in technology.

Its nations are seeking to harness the potential of blockchain, automated transport and smart cities, grappling with the potential for fintech and online shopping, as well as addressing cybersecurity issues and complicated relationships with VoIP and messaging app providers.

Because of that complexity, we’ve identified a set of key facts and statistics to help you understand take-up and usage of tech in the region.

Middle East broadband and internet usage

  • The region has fewer than 10 broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. Yet the region has more than 120 mobile phone subscriptions for every 100 inhabitants. This is one of the highest mobile subscription levels in the world. Source: World Bank, October 2018
  • In five years, the region will have 549 million internet users. That is 32% of the population, up from 388 million, 23%, in 2017. Source: Cisco, February 2019
  • In Israel, 88% of adults own a smartphone phone, one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world. Just 2% have no mobile at all. Source: Pew Research Center, February 2019
  • Countries such as Palestine, Iraq, and Algeria have some of the slowest mobile internet speeds in the world. Qatar is the only country in the region in the Top 10. Source: Hootsuite and We Are Social, January 2019
hootsuitewearesocialjan19mobilespeeds.jpg

Qatar is the only country in the region to rank among the world’s best nations for mobile internet connection speeds.  


Image: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Middle East data usage

The average mobile subscriber in the region consumes 3.7GB of data per month, one of the lowest amounts in the world. This is predicted to rise to 19GB a month by 2024. Source: GSMA, February 2019 

IP traffic is growing fastest in the Middle East and North Africa, followed by Asia Pacific. Traffic in the region will grow at a CAGR of 41% between 2017 and 2022. Source: Cisco, February 2019

gsmamobiledatausage.jpg

Average data consumption by mobile subscribers in the region is among the lowest in the world.


Image: GSMA

The future of mobile

  • There are expected to be 30 million 5G subscriptions in the Middle East and North Africa in five years’ time. The first commercial 5G deployments in the region are expected to launch in 2019. Source: Ericsson, February 2019
  • Mobile broadband subscriptions across the region are predicted to double in the next six years, up from 860 million in 2018 to 1.63 billion in 2024. Source: Ericsson, February 2019
ericssonsubscriptions.jpg

Mobile broadband subscriptions are predicted to double in the next six years to 1.63 billion.


Image: Ericsson

Social media in the Middle East

  • The UAE and Qatar with 99% and Kuwait on 92% have some of the highest levels of social-media penetration in the world. South Sudan has one of the lowest with 1.8%. Source: Hootsuite and We Are Social, January 2019
  • Among internet users, just 9% of Qatari nationals use Facebook. This compares with 90% of Egyptians and 38% of Saudi nationals who go online. Five years ago, the number of Qatari nationals using Facebook stood at 47%. Source: Northwestern University in Qatar, February 2019
northwesternuniversityfacebook.jpg

Among internet users, just 9% of Qatari nationals use Facebook.


Image: Northwestern University in Qatar

Middle East’s digital divides

  • In the region, 44% of people have access to mobile broadband but do not subscribe to it. Source: GSMA, February 2019 
  • Some 75% of Tunisians aged between 18 and 34 years own a smartphone, compared with just 18% of those aged over 50 years. One in 10 Tunisians reports owning no mobile at all. Source: Pew Research Center, February 2019
  • By 2022, the region’s average fixed broadband speed will reach 20.2Mbps, considerably behind the global average of 75.4Mbps. Although this represents 2.6-fold growth from 2017’s 7.8Mbps, average fixed broadband speeds will still be the slowest of any region in the world. Source: Cisco, February 2019

Region

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

CAGR

(2017–2022)

Global

39.0

45.9

52.9

60.4

67.9

75.4

14%

Asia Pacific

46.2

62.8

79.4

87.5

92.7

98.8

16%

Latin America

11.7

15.7

19.7

22.0

25.0

28.1

19%

North America

43.2

56.6

70.1

79.6

87.9

94.2

17%

Western Europe

37.9

45.6

53.2

60.8

68.4

76.0

15%

Central and Eastern Europe

32.8

35.0

37.2

40.8

43.7

46.7

7%

Middle East and Africa

7.8

9.7

11.7

15.7

17.6

20.2

21%

By 2022, the region’s average fixed broadband speed will reach 20.2Mbps. Image: Cisco

Tech startups

Middle East unicorn, Careem, a ride-hailing service, now has more than one million drivers, known as ‘captains’. Uber acquired the company at the end of March 2019, in a deal worth $3.1bn. Source: Careem, March 2019

Nearly 40% of the region’s most successful startups come from the UAE. Amazon’s acquisition of e-commerce platform Souq.com for $580m holds the previous record for the region. Source: Wamda, February 2019

wamdamestartups.jpg

Nearly 40% of the region’s most successful startups come from the UAE.


Image: Wamda

Employment

University graduates constitute nearly 30% of the unemployed pool in the Middle East and North Africa. Unemployment among Arab youth was a major driver in the Arab Spring. Source: World Bank, October 2018

Some 92% of employees in the Middle East would be willing to consider working on a freelance basis, just behind Mexico with 94%, and China on 93%. “Yet developing a strategy to attract and retain gig workers is near the bottom of the list of HR priorities for 2019.” Source: Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends study, February 2019

Regulation

Of the 193 Member States that are part of the ITU, 45% have no clear policy statement on net neutrality. This is highest in the Arab States, with 80% of countries, and the Americas with 71.4%. Source: UN Broadband Commission, September 2018

In Lebanon, Egypt, UAE, and Saudi Arabia, there is a desire for tighter internet regulation. Among Arab nationals, only internet users in Qatar and Tunisia took a contrary view. Source: Northwestern University in Qatar, February 2019

northwesternuniversityregulation.jpg

In Lebanon, Egypt, UAE, and Saudi Arabia, there is a desire for tighter internet regulation.


Image: Northwestern University in Qatar

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2021 Kia Niro Hybrid and Niro PHEV gets new tech and safety updates

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The 2021 Kia Niro Hybrid and Niro PHEV are soldiering on with a couple of new safety and technology features. Kia updated the Niro’s styling last year, and the changes carry over to the 2021 model. The Niro may not be the roomiest or best-handling crossover on the road, but it easily achieves 43 to 50 mpg in combined city/highway driving.

New for the 2021 Kia Niro and Kiro PHEV is a rear occupant alert system, a new 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display, and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity. Vehicles equipped with Kia’s Smart Key now have a remote engine start feature. Meanwhile, Niro models with navigation get ten years of complimentary MapCare updates.

Moreover, both the Niro Hybrid and Niro plug-in-hybrid also get navigation-based smart cruise control with a ‘curve’ function. The latter automatically applies the brakes to reduce vehicle speed upon entering a corner. The Niro is comprehensively equipped with top-notch safety and driver assistive features like forward collision avoidance, blindspot detection, lane keeping assist, smart cruise control, and a rearview camera, to name just a few.

The 2021 Kia Niro Hybrid remains motivated by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor pumping out a combined 139 horsepower, all of which are sent to the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox. It also has a 1.56 kWh lithium-ion polymer hybrid battery pack sending juice to the small electric motor.

On the other hand, the 2021 Kia Niro PHEV has the same gasoline engine and electric motor as the hybrid version producing 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. The difference is a larger 8.9 kWh battery pack, allowing 26 miles of all-electric range before the battery runs out of juice. The Niro PHEV is EPA-rated at 46 mpg.

The 2021 Kia Niro Hybrid is available in five trim models: LX, LXS, Touring, Touring SE, and EX Premium. Base prices start at $25,865 (an increase of $100 over last year’s model), while the top-of-the-line Niro Hybrid EX Premium starts at $34,125 (inclusive of $1,175 destination fees).

If you like the 2021 Kia Niro PHEV, you can choose from three available trims: LXS, EX, and EX Premium, with base prices starting at $30,765. Both the Niro Hybrid and Niro PHEV are available to order now. The new 2021 all-electric Niro EV is also coming later this year.

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The final phase of Ram’s limited-edition “Build to Serve” truck line launches

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Ram has been building special limited edition “Build to Serve” trucks to celebrate the United States Armed Forces. So far, the automaker has built these special trucks to honor all five branches of the United States Armed Forces. The fifth and final installment in the series introduces 500 units in a color called Spitfire and 750 in Bright White.

The military branch-inspired interior will be available in showrooms starting in Q2 of 2021. The Built to Serve edition’s fifth installment offers a maritime force-inspired theme with both exterior color options featuring a black interior with orange accent stitching. With the fifth and final version of the truck revealed, each of the five US military service branches has been honored by Ram with two specially selected exterior paint colors meant to evoke the spirit, mission, and history of that service.

Built to Serve edition Ram trucks were made in the following numbers and colors. Ram made 1000 units in Gator and 1000 in Diamond Black Crystal. Ram produced 1000 in Ceramic Gray and 1000 in Patriot Blue. 1250 units were built in Anvil with 1500 produced in Billet Silver Metallic.

In the series, 1000 trucks were made in Tank and 1000 in Flame Red. This fifth and final installment are the rarest of the special edition trucks, with only 500 produced in Spitfire and 750 made in Bright White. All Built to Serve trucks get 20-inch aluminum wheels with a unique Technical Gray finish along with body-color wheel flares.

All the trucks feature unique Built to Serve instrument panel badging, optional lockable center storage console, deeply bolstered cloth and vinyl sport seats, black onyx chrome interior trim, and all-weather slush mats. The trucks also include the 4×4 Off-Road Group and are available on all body styles and with all powertrains.

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Manhart MH3 600 and MH4 600 are spicier versions of BMW’s M3 and M4

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German tuning brand Manhart has a nifty pair of new BMWs to call its own: The MH3 600 and MH4 600. Based on the all-new G80 BMW M3 sedan and G82 M4 coupe, both the MH3 600 and MH4 600 receive a plethora of upgrades, including a 600-plus horsepower turbocharged inline-six motor.

Manhart starts with the 2021 M3 and M4 Competition models, both pumping out 510 horsepower from the factory. After installing a Manhart MHtronik Powerbox, the inline-six motor has a new maximum output of 620+ horsepower, around 100 more horses than stock. Additionally, you have 553 pound-feet of torque at your disposal.

The mods include a Manhart Performance cat-back or OPF-back exhaust system with twin carbon tailpipes to unleash those spent gasses. According to Manhart, their Mhtronik Powerbox is also applicable to a standard M3 or M4, allowing the motor to churn out 590 horsepower. If you’re keeping count, that’s 117 more horsepower than a typical M3’s 473-horsepower output. Nice.

Other upgrades include new H&R lowering springs, staggered Concave One forged wheels developed in-house by Manhart, and a sprinkling of carbon-fiber exterior bits to improve aerodynamics, including a new hood, front splitter, rear spoiler, and rear diffuser. Manhart is also developing a unique set of side flaps for MH3 600 and MH4 600.

Of course, no Manhart creation is complete without a set of body decals. You get a gold decal kit for the MH3 600 and MH4 600, including side stripes and racing stripes. What’s more, you can have gold pinstriping on the wheels if you like a bit more bling in your Bimmer.

The 2021 BMW M3 and M4 (including the 4-Series in general) were targets of blatant criticism upon debuting last year, and it all has something to do with that oversized kidney grille. But looking at Manhart’s MH3 600 and MH4 600, the stealthy vibe fits both vehicles quite well. Dare we say Manhart has sorted out the M3 and M4’s polarizing façade?

And when you think about it, Manhart isn’t done with the M3 and M4. The 600-horsepower upgrade is only Phase 1 of the tuning program. Phase 2 involves more power, more noise, and more ridiculous exterior appendages, and we can’t wait to check it out soon.

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