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Ramadan role for app developers in Middle East

Download rate on increase among Muslims across the world during the Holy Month

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Gulf News

Dubai: Technology has come to play a major role in annual festivities due to the robust growth in smartphones across the region.

With more than 14 million subscribers in the UAE, the download rate of Islamic applications is on the increase in the region and especially in the UAE. The Emirate has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world.

Islamic apps are not a new phenomenon. Many developers develop apps targeting Muslims across the world and across all operating systems. They not only add new apps but also upgrade the old ones.

Mobile subscriptions in the Middle East grew nine per cent year-on-year — or eight million — to 284 million in the first quarter of this year, mainly fuelled by strong growth in smartphones. The number of mobile subscriptions worldwide grew approximately eight per cent year-on-year during the quarter.

According to the latest Ericsson’s Mobility Report, one in every 16 mobile subscriptions globally was from the Middle East.

The apps help Muslims recite Quran or meditate whenever they get free time to get reward from Allah. These apps are downloaded throughout the year but the popularity soars during Ramadan.

It is a time when people find time to be closer to God and devote time to communities and charity works.

Not only are the app developers focusing on the holy month but also telecom operators in the region.

Du has announced the launch of an exciting series of offers, including SMS and WAP bouquets with Ramadan-themed content, plus a selection of nine popular new TV channels, and Video-on-Demand content to keep the family entertained throughout the holy month.

For just Dh1 per day, du’s mobile customers can subscribe to a special SMS bundle that will deliver three Ramadan-relevant pieces of content a day.

“We have our customers’ best interests in minds at all time, but especially during the Holy Month of Ramadan. To add life to life this month in the most meaningful ways, we have curated content that will nurture our customers’ spiritual, social and wellbeing needs, in order for them to have a healthy, happy Holy Month with their family and friends,” Fahad Al Hassawi, Chief Commercial Officer at du, said in a statement.

According to Sandeep Saighal, managing director of Blackberry Middle East, downloads of Islamic apps soars as Ramadan approaches with the highest demand witnessed for Quran, prayer timings and Ramadan greetings to send it to their loved ones and families.

Most of the applications on the major platforms are offered free with only a few entailing charges.

Even social media consumption and user habits significantly change during the month. Instead of looking at their social media platforms first thing in the morning when they wake or get into work, people are most active on Twitter early evening, just before they break their fast,” said Zafer Younis, CEO of The Online Project, a social media agency in the Middle East.

“Developers in the region are very enthusiastic with the opportunities Ramadan apps offer on the Nokia Lumia smartphones with Windows Phone 8 as they constitute a unique ‘economy’ within the Middle East app ecosystem. There has been a significant increase in this category and we are pleased to announce the availability of some of the most innovative applications relevant for this Ramadan season,” said Ahmad Arab, App Marketing Manager at Nokia Middle East and North Africa.