The Igloo Primer on Digital Marketing in Dubai

Digital Marketing in Dubai

Dubai is the most internet-savvy country in the MENA region, known for trailblazing opportunities within the digital marketing sphere. Considering that of the UAE’s ten million-person population, 78% live in urban centers and many are expatriate working professionals, the demand for digital marketing services is high.

So, the biggest challenge for emerging businesses isn’t whether digital marketing in Dubai is feasible but whether it can be successful for their brand. Understanding your chances for success within Dubai’s digital landscape means taking a closer look at the scope of digital marketing in this region. 

In this guide, you’ll learn more about how social media and the internet play a role in Dubai’s market and how your business can take advantage of its digital marketing opportunities.

The State of Internet Usage

Roughly 98.99% of UAE residents spend regular time on social media platforms, the most popular being WhatsApp and Facebook. On average, these users spend about seven hours online daily, whether connecting with friends or shopping on eCommerce websites.

Shift From Traditional to Digital Advertising

As online spaces become increasingly popular in the UAE, so does digital advertising. According to Statista, digital spaces now take up 44% of total ad expenditure in the UAE, with traditional methods like television dropping to 30%.

Within the MENA region, roughly 75% of ad spend goes to platforms like Facebook and Google, drawing 78% of all online shoppers from the UAE. 

Online Shopping in the UAE

Among GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) states, the UAE is the leading country in eCommerce sales volume. By 2025, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry expects the UAE eCommerce market to generate $8 billion in sales. By then, nearly 100% of the UAE population will have a mobile phone with internet access.

Considering an 8.2% annual growth rate of active social media users in the UAE, it should be no surprise that online shopping in the region is thriving.

Now, brick-and-mortar retailers in the UAE who introduce eCommerce capabilities have a good chance of increasing their revenue.

Since luxury brands are removing language barriers by publishing content in English and Arabic, UAE-based online shoppers are opening doors for international businesses. Now, 58% of UAE consumer purchases are made to overseas vendors.

However, the UAE favors cash-on-delivery and lacks a unified address system, making it imperative for local brands to support flexible payments and delivery outlets.

using smart phone social

What Are the Best Digital Marketing Outlets in Dubai?

As Dubai strays from traditional advertising methods and begins to adopt performance-based strategies, what platform you choose is a critical decision for your potential success. When shortlisting marketing outlets for your Dubai-based business, consider the following.

Video Marketing

Since Saudi Arabia launched its video campaign for #SheDrives, the Middle East’s affinity for video marketing has skyrocketed. Now that MENA region YouTube channels have increased by 160%, it only makes sense to use video as part of your marketing campaigns. 

Some of the best ways to incorporate video into your advertising strategy are to:

  • Collaborate with UAE influencers
  • Publish short-form social media video advertisements
  • Vlog the behind-the-scenes of your business

Don’t forget to optimize every aspect of your business, including titles, captions, meta descriptions, and hashtags. 

Messenger Apps

Regarding messenger marketing, your best bet is WhatsApp, which has over 8.08 million users in the UAE. Second to WhatsApp is Facebook Messenger, which provides many unique marketing opportunities in-app.

Dubai-based marketers love WhatsApp for its business profile features. A business profile can upload basic information, such as your contact number, email address, operating hours, and up to two website links.

When you gather leads on WhatsApp, you can segregate groups by adding labels to your chats, making it easier to track potential customers as they travel through your sales funnel.

Most marketers also use WhatsApp for customer service, as it has auto-reply and greeting messages.

While limited, WhatsApp also boasts basic eCommerce features, such as the ability to send and receive payments. WhatsApp collaborates with several payment partners, including Axis bank, BHIM UPI, ICICI Bank, and HDFC Bank. 

Social Media

Social media has provided thousands of UAE-based businesses with an opportunity for free organic traffic. However, the benefits of paid advertising are still undeniable. The largest share of social media advertisement audiences in the UAE are between 25 and 34 years old, so you’ll want to tap into marketing channels like Facebook, Instagram, and—most popularly—Tiktok. 

video marketing audio market


As the second most popular social media channel to WhatsApp, advertising your UAE business on Facebook is a must. Because most local users are expats, Facebook provides lucrative opportunities for international trade.

With that in mind, localizing marketing materials by advertising in Arabic is still imperative. After all, Facebook usage surges during specific times of the year, including Ramadan. 

Facebook is a marketing favorite thanks to its free and versatile ad features. Take advantage of features like:

    • Engagement ads: So, your business is new to the internet and not quite where you want it to be—but no one has to know. Engagement ads can make your brand look more popular by appearing on highly-targeted feeds. In short, Facebook will only display engagement ads to potential clients who are most likely to buy from you.
    • Remarketing: Suppose a Facebook user interacts with your ad but doesn’t buy anything from your website—they aren’t quite a lost cause. Facebook can re-tag these users via web cookies and push them closer to a conversion.
    • Behavioral targeting: You’ve heard of demographic targeting, but have you heard of behavioral targeting? Facebook’s nifty feature targets consumers based on their purchase history, intent, and device usage.
    • Pixels: While a relatively new addition, Facebook’s tracking pixel is an effective way to measure conversions and track activity across your ads. Use it to observe consumer behaviors and optimize your existing ads.


While not nearly as popular as Facebook, Twitter garners roughly 41% of all UAE internet users, with ⅔ posting primarily in English. In particular, Dubai caters to a more international audience.

Most Twitter ads are straightforward—promoted ads look just like regular tweets. However, you can opt for something more sophisticated, such as video, carousel, or moment ads.

Since becoming a digital marketing staple, Twitter has also opened up opportunities for other ad formats, including:

  • Follower ads: Advertise your entire Twitter account by placing ads in front of potential followers. If someone is already shopping with your brand but not following you on Twitter, this is the best way to get them to link up with you online.
  • Twitter Amplify: If you can’t outdo your competitors, why not collaborate with them? Use Twitter Amplify’s pre-roll feature to pre-roll video ads on content from various publishers. 
  • Twitter Takeover: Once called Trending Topics, Twitter Takeover enables brands to publish sponsored ads in the What’s Happening section.


If you run a business in the fashion, fitness, or food industry, your digital marketing assets belong on Instagram. Since 2.5% of Dubai influencers have 100,000 to one million followers on Instagram, collaborating with them can do wonders for your brand awareness.

Create a business profile for your brand and provide users with a convenient way to reach you. Use your profile to create sponsored ads, release product teasers, and engage with your audience organically with these top ad features:

  • Dynamic CTAs: Nudge your followers to “shop now,” “learn more,” or “install app” with dynamic CTAs that are more interactive and noticeable.
  • Mobile promotion: Boost posts and improve your ad placements directly from your mobile device. You won’t be distracted by all the bells and whistles of your full-scale ads manager. 


Once a relatively simple and un-fussy platform for users to lip-sync their favorite songs, Tiktok is now one of the best places to advertise your products to younger consumers, and there are so many ways to use it. For instance: 

  • Brand takeover: When you first open the Tiktok app, the first ad that fully appears on the screen is a brand takeover. Brand takeovers are excellent for staying top-of-mind and catching a user’s attention immediately. 
  • Inbox ads: Inbox ads effectively tap into users who already follow and interact with your brand. You can select ad recipients according to basic demographics or behavioral information like interests and purchasing habits.
  • In-feed ad: In-feed ads are a common method of marketing your brand on Tiktok. These videos appear on the “For You” page and require a lot of familiarization with the platform’s algorithm. You can segregate audiences according to interests, gender, and geo-locations.

woman vlogger

The Bottom Line

As digital marketing opportunities in Dubai continue to scale and become more accessible to small and medium-sized businesses, understanding the scope of your business concerning the rest of the industry is imperative. When you know where your best opportunities lie, developing effective marketing campaigns that deliver long-lasting results can be simple.

Could your marketing approach use a revamp or a fresh set of eyes? Contact our experts at Igloo to find out how your brand can increase its reach and garner attention from the biggest buyers in the UAE.


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