May 23, 2024
Middle East and Central Asia Creator Economy

The Emerging Creator Economy in the Middle East and Central Asia

The internet and rise of social media have enabled the emergence of a new sector known as the “creator economy” globally. In this economy, individuals known as ‘digital creators’ are able to monetize their creativity, skills and influence online through platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Twitch and more. While still in nascent stages, the creator economy is now starting to take off in the Middle East and Central Asia regions.

A Growing Sector

Over the past few years, the number of digital creators in the Middle East and Central Asia has increased significantly. More young people in these regions now see opportunities to express themselves creatively and build careers online without traditional barriers. Social platforms are full of influencers, artists, gamers, lifestyle creators, podcasters, and others monetizing their work. Official data is limited, but reports suggest there are already tens of thousands of digital creators across the regions generating some income online. The sectors with the most creators so far include fashion/beauty, comedy/entertainment, gaming, and cooking/recipes.

Platforms Opening Up Opportunities

International platforms like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok have played a big role in growing the Middle Eastern and Central Asian creator economies by empowering locals to find audiences. All three platforms now have dedicated programs and funding to help regional creators grow professionally. For example, YouTube Works Accelerator was launched in 2021 to train 10000 Middle Eastern influencers through workshops. Local languages like Arabic, Farsi and Turkish are also better supported. Platforms see huge potential as internet connections spread to more people across vast regions. Local startups are emerging too like video site Evebrio in Pakistan to support local languages primarily.

Monetization Models Driving Incomes

While still in early stages, successful regional creators are demonstrating diverse monetization models. Most common are brand sponsorships for posts, but other popular ones include online courses/tutorials, merchandising, podcast/video subscriptions, crowdfunding and live streaming/donations. Key personalities can earn thousands of dollars monthly. Even micro-creators earning $100 monthly see it as valuable supplementary income. E-commerce enablement and creator marketplaces are helping open monetization avenues beyond platforms themselves. Regional creators are partnering with local entrepreneurs to build hybrid online-offline businesses together.

Challenges Remain for Growth

However, significant obstacles remain before the Middle Eastern and Central Asian creator economies can reach maturity. Access to fast, affordable internet is still limited in many rural areas. Cultural norms discourage some types of content. Payment/monetization infrastructure is underdeveloped. Taxes/regulations around self-employment need clarity. Local languages face technical barriers. Creators lack business training. Platform algorithms and policies don’t always favor regional content. Nonetheless, governments and entrepreneurs are actively working to address these challenges through new policies, investment and startups.

Opportunity for Socio-Economic Impact

If these challenges are properly addressed, the creator economy holds huge potential for positive socio-economic impact across the less developed regions of the Middle East and Central Asia in the coming decade. It could provide a viable self-employment/side hustle option for millions of underemployed and unemployed youth — especially women. Revenue from creators can stimulate local economies as well. It may even influence cultural shifts by demonstrating new expressive and professional opportunities fornext generations. Social changes triggered by social media are already visibly empowering more diversity of voices. Regional tech hubs and organizations are also emerging to support local creators professionally through business training, services and community.

In summary, while the Middle Eastern and Central Asian creator economies are still nascent compared to developed regions, they are growing rapidly driven by a young, internet-savvy population and increased accessibility of global platforms. Overcoming remaining infrastructure, regulatory, cultural and monetization challenges can help realize its significant untapped socio-economic potential. With government reforms and private sector innovation, the region’s creator economy seems poised for exponential growth in the coming years, transforming livelihoods,and lives across vast swathes of these dynamic regions.

*Note:

  1. Source: CoherentMI, Public sources, Desk research
  2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it