Sunday, February 14, 2010

Jordan leads in patents but regional innovation and content is low, says Google

Google claims that the state of innovation in the Middle East is ‘in bad shape’ compared to other regions across the world.

In a keynote speech at Google Day Arabia 2.0 in Dubai last week, Mohammad Gawdat, Google's managing director for Southern and Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East and Africa region, said that there was only a total of 3,224 patents filed from the MENA region in the last thirteen years.

Jordan leads the pack with more than 150, followed by Saudi Arabia and then Morocco.

According to 2009 Madar Research, only 56 million internet users in the MENA region search in Arabic though it is home to a population of 337 million. It's also estimated that less than 1 percent of all content online is in Arabic.

Google claims the region only ‘graduated' in 2009, which is a term used internally to signify that it is now possible to start pursuing their mission there. "The internet was not ready when we (Google) came to the Middle East," admitted Gawdat. He said that while the region may have a late start compared to other markets, it has the chance to ‘leapfrog' over them.

The Google Day Arabia 2.0 saw executives and government officials from across the Middle East come together to discuss the future of the Internet and prospects for innovation in the region.

Vinton Cerf, Google's VP and chief internet evangelist spoke at the event and predicted that currently dominant online populations such as the US and Europe will be overtaken by masses gaining connectivity from the Middle East, Africa and Asia in the future.