x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Google takes a week to celebrate 15th anniversary

A whole week to celebrate an anniversary may seem excessive, but Google, with revenues of US$30 billion, is not one to shy away from excess.

A special edition 15th anniversary t-shirt is worn by an employee at the Google office in Dubai Media City. Sarah Dea / The National
A special edition 15th anniversary t-shirt is worn by an employee at the Google office in Dubai Media City. Sarah Dea / The National

A whole week to celebrate an anniversary may seem excessive, but Google, with revenues of US$30 billion, is not one to shy away from its own story of excessive growth and profitability in only a decade and a half since it was founded.

This week, the search engine turned global internet powerhouse is celebrating its 15 years of existence. What started out as a single website indexing the pages of the internet has now permeated into every day life from looking up new recipes to sharing videos of protests and torture to the outside world. Its dominance extends to this part of the world with products like Search, YouTube and Android outpacing the market.

Google first opened its offices in the region in Dubai five years ago. Later it opened an office in Cairo. The company has doubled its workforce in the region in the past year and continues its recruitment drive. Today, the company has more than 54,000 employees worldwide.

“We work hard to ensure all of Google’s products are available in Arabic so they benefit the users in the region,” said Mohamad Mourad, the regional manager for the Arabian Gulf at Google. “We see growth across Google’s products in [the Middle East and North Africa] compared to other markets. We have a diverse set of teams in both the Egypt and Dubai offices serving users, policymakers, the press, universities and advertisers. The local teams bring the power of Google to our local communities and we are just getting started.”

One of the most popular products is YouTube. After the United States, the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region comes top for the number of videos watched on the website, with 13 million hours.

There are more than 310 million views per day and more than two hours of content is uploaded onto the website every minute.

YouTube’s relevance and popularity come to the fore with the beginning of the Arab Spring and continues to be an outlet for protesters and activists in Syria and Cairo to reach out to the wider world and show what is happening on the ground.

Most of these videos are viewed on mobile devices, of which Google’s Android Operating System dominates the market with the help of Samsung’s Galaxy range of phones.

Searches per day have risen 25 per cent over the past year, Saudi Arabia has the largest number of search queries followed by Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and the UAE.

“We have been able to launch our core products in Arabic. This is significant. When any global product launches, we work hard to make sure Arabic is one of the key languages available at launch,” said Mr Mourad.

Services like voice search, navigation and maps are all available in Arabic – key to helping more users to go online. The company is working to localise more of its products and targeting the business and enterprise community to grow its advertising revenues in the region.

“We have seen the economic impact of the internet start to bear fruit. Businesses and governments alike are seeing the economic impact of the internet to add jobs and grow business like never before,” he said.

“For example, in Egypt the internet contributed 15.6 billion pounds [Dh8.31bn] to the Egyptian economy in 2011. Imagine if we get all the small and medium-sized businesses online in Mena. The economic impact that will have will be substantial,” said Mr Mourad.

thamid@thenational.ae