Five things to know about why GCC mobile phone shipments are growing

Smartphone shipments to the GCC have gone up for the first time since Q1 2017
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Welcome uptick: Shipments of smartphones for sale in the GCC saw an uptick in the third quarter of 2018, reversing five consecutive quarters of decline. While still modest, the 1.1 percent increase to 4 million units may represent a stabilisation of the market after five quarters of declines, according to IDC mobile phone statistics.
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Simplicity works: Interestingly, the market for feature phones continues to grow. Shipments to the GCC increased 6.7 percent on a quarterly basis to reach 1.9 million units indicating that an improvement in feature phone functionality has continued to retain appeal for customers.
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Back in business: Saudi Arabia was the region’s top-performing market in Q3, with overall mobile phone shipments increasing 8.4 percent compared to Q2. IDC believes the market is settling down again after the effects of Saudisation and dependant taxes on the Kingdom’s mobile phone space.
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Fractured fortunes: The overall GCC mobile phone market saw a combined total of 5.9 million units shipped in Q3, with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait driving the market’s growth. The rest of the region was characterised by declines, with overall mobile phone shipments down 7.3 percent in the UAE.
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Under pressure: Pressures continue to persist in the UAE smartphone market, which is hampered by an overall lack of disposable income and job security in the country, says Nabila Popal, a senior research manager at IDC. Large scale events such as GITEX have had neglible impact.