Dubai: Google and Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) has teamed up to bring more businesses online through the “Get Dubai Businesses Online” programme.
The programme is aimed at helping local businesses get discovered on the internet by listing and verifying their business information (company’s opening hours, contact number and location) on Google Search and Maps through a solution known as Google My Business (GMB).
Hamad Bu Amin, president and CEO of DCCI, said the programme will help DCCI members to realise the value and benefits of building and managing their digital presence.
“In 1999, when e-government was launched, the internet penetration was 5 per cent globally and one per cent regionally. Many developments have happened in the last twenty years in the region. Now, we have huge internet penetration rates among consumers and businesses,” he said.
In the last three years, he said that consumers have moved online very fast, but businesses did not catch up. Businesses in the past didn’t need to be online to do business as they were present in malls and souks and there was business for everybody.
When DCCI met Google a few months ago, he said only 15 per cent of the more than 200,000 companies in Dubai had an online presence. This is something “we plan to correct” and open the door for new growth opportunities in the UAE and beyond.
Lino Cattaruzzi, managing director of Google Mena, said that businesses in the UAE need to move fast to meet their customers and show up in the moments that matter. Now is the time to experiment and to use the digital tools to help make businesses smarter and to measure results.
GMB gives businesses the tools to update their listing, build a website, and engage with their customers from their phone, tablet or computer for absolutely free.
Tarek Abdalla, head of marketing at Google Mena, said that consumers primarily turn to search engines to gather information for local purchases. 95 per cent of people turn to Google search first for information regarding their purchases. 63 per cent of people use their smartphones to reach local businesses.
“These three steps — be found online, be verified and be mobile first — will help businesses benefit from being on the internet. With GMB, any businesses can get a completely free automated and optimised English and Arabic websites, real-time dashboard and data analytics.
“For us, the partnership with DCCI is just the start and our plan is to roll out the initiative to Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Cairo and Kuwait,” he said.
Khalil Haddad, director of strategy and development at DCCI, said that 40 per cent of its member companies have a digital strategy and 64 per cent of companies have increased their digital spend since 2015.