New InfluAnswer Arabia report shows rising activism among MENA influencers with 63% posting more about causes they care about

A new report by Weber Shandwick MENAT offers a nuanced understanding of the region’s dynamic influencer marketing landscape by elevating topics on the minds of MENA’s influencers and providing insights for brands to build stronger partnerships. InfluAnswer Arabia 2024 also offers perspectives on how influencers view the region, technology, sustainability, their business, and their position of influence. The report was launched at an event in Dubai, attended by influencers, content creators, brand managers, communicators, and media.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of influencers say they have posted more content about causes they care about in the past year, with a third (35%) saying they have posted significantly more. Influencers in MENA are becoming more mindful about their role in society, and a brand’s values, but also the brand’s perception in the Arab world when making collaboration choices.

The risk and reward of Artificial Intelligence are also on their minds. Over half (56%) of influencers in MENA say they are either neutral or uncertain about using AI in their content, but the rest are twice as likely to be positive (29%) than negative (15%). Generative AI has had a massive year in 2023, permeating conversations across markets and demographics with talk of enhanced efficiencies and evolved creativity – but also misinformation, misrepresentation, and mistrust.

“Themes related to real connections, meaningful partnerships, quality collaborations, authentic content, cultural relevance, enhanced transparency, and positive influence emerged frequently in our analysis. MENA’s influencers have some concerns and some suggestions, but they are also proud of their trade, the growing corporate recognition and impact of their industry, and the potential for the future,” says Ziad Hasbani, Regional CEO, Weber Shandwick MENAT.

MENA’s influencers shared their views on the region through different lenses. Areas where they believe the UAE is excelling on a global scale include tourism (44%), smart government (15%), technology (14%) and sustainability (14%). On whether COP28 would lead to more sustainable behaviours in the region, 69% agreed, saying they believe it will generate more positive initiatives as people and brands do more.

The vast majority (78%) of influencers agree Saudi Arabia is presently the region’s most exciting place for transformative developments. Entertainment is also front of mind – 47% of influencers consider Saudi Arabia as the “e-sports hub of the Middle East”, with 34% saying it’s the UAE and 12% choosing Qatar.

Influencers tap Dubai (60%), Riyadh (17%) and Abu Dhabi (6%) as the best cities to start a small business in the region. And with a flair for capturing and sharing photogenic angles, influencers rate Dubai (55%) as the region’s most instagrammable city, followed by Riyadh (14%) and Cairo (6%).

“Beyond the valuable insights for different stakeholders across the influencer marketing industry, this report also serves as a voice for Arabia’s content creators and a platform to share what’s on their minds. By highlighting the perspectives of the humans behind the handles, we’re contributing to deeper understanding and better relationships,” added Ghaleb Zeidan, Regional Managing Director, Weber Shandwick MENAT.

Influencer marketing is growing across the MENA region, with Statista anticipating a compound annual growth rate of 9% over the next five years. Through multiple platforms, channels and media, influencers are finding creative ways to connect with their followers, and brands are looking for successful ways to connect to those audiences through collaborations. As a leading PR and communications agency with a regional presence in many regional markets (including Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dubai, Istanbul, Kuwait, and Riyadh), Weber Shandwick offers expertise, guidance, and support in managing influencer marketing campaigns across multiple markets.