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Sun 3 Jul 2005 04:00 AM

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UAE ad revenue overtakes KSA’s

Advertising spend in Saudi Arabia has fallen behind that of the UAE for the first time in six years, according to the Arabian Research Company.

Advertising spend in Saudi Arabia has fallen behind that of the UAE for the first time in six years, according to the Arabian Research Company.

A survey carried out by the group put ad spend in Saudi Arabia at US$203 million for the first three months of the year, against US$206 million in the UAE.

Overall, ad spend in the Gulf region increased by 25% to US$943 million during the first quarter of 2005 compared to US$753 million for the same period last year.

But media agency executives in the Kingdom claim the drop is only a “blip” and full-year figures will show spending will be higher than in the UAE.

“At the end of the day, Saudi Arabia represents the biggest market in the Gulf and I don’t expect the UAE to be ahead at the end of the year,” said Karim Younes, managing director at Starcom Saudi Arabia. “I believe the boom in real estate, together with the advertising activities of the Dubai government, has pushed the Emirates ahead of Saudi, but these figures are for a three-month period only.”

He said Saudi Telecom and mobile phone operator Mobily are aggressively pumping cash into advertising, which will help push figures up for the rest of the year.

But Fadi Kachkouche, general manager at Optimedia in Dubai, said the change in ad spend, while temporary, is the start of a longer term trend that will eventually see the UAE on par with Saudi Arabia.

“I see the gap between Saudi Arabia and the UAE getting closer,” he said. “If you take a ten-year trend, we will see the gap get smaller because of the increase in population in the UAE, as well as the purchasing power parity of the population.”

The study showed that increased spending in Qatar and Oman helped contribute to the 25% increase in the Gulf. Qatar recorded the highest advertising spend increase of 158% from US$12 million to US$33 million in the first quarter.Opinion, page 16

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