x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 September 2017

Google plans offices in the MENA region

Google aims to boost its presence in the Middle East and North Africa, as the online advertising market is expected to grow here at double the pace of that in Europe.

The internet giant's Kirkland office in Washington, where amenities for employees include a gym and soda fountain.
The internet giant's Kirkland office in Washington, where amenities for employees include a gym and soda fountain.

Free food, "foosball" tournaments and workplace chill-out rooms await new Google employees in the MENA region, as the company plans to open "two to three" regional offices next year.

The US internet giant, which is known for its unorthodox workplace decor and generous employee benefits, says it aims to boost its presence in the region as it expects the online advertising market there to grow at double the pace of that in Europe.

New recruits can expect a similar workplace culture as found in the company's Dubai office, which features an "art wall", beanbag seating and video games - as well as free food for employees.

"Next year in the Middle East and North Africa, we hope to open between two to three offices," said Carlo d'Asaro Biondo, Google's vice president for southern and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Mr Biondo declined to specify possible locations for the new offices, but pointed to markets in north Africa and the Levant. Google already has a regional presence in Dubai and Cairo.

"It depends on our ability to find the right people to manage them, and our ability to develop the right conditions locally to make them useful and relevant," he said. "There are many possibilities. We should open [in] northern Africa; we think that the Levant is important."

Advertising sales account for the majority of Google's revenues. Mr Biondo said that while the total online ad spend in the MENA region was still low, he predicted growth in the market outpacing that of Europe.

"The advertising market in the Middle East is not huge … We believe in an acceleration of the growth of the advertising market online here," he said. "The potential for growth should be twice the pace we see in Europe."

Ari Kesisoglu, the regional manager for Google in the MENA region, said the company forecast online advertising spend in the region to reach "significant" numbers in the next few years.

"The total [digital] ad market today is between US$110 million (Dh404m) and $130m in the Middle East and North Africa. And this number has been growing by between 30 and 40 per cent every year in the last four to five years," said Mr Kesisoglu.

"If you do the maths, in a couple of years we reach significant numbers."

 

bflanagan@thenational.ae