Localised online content in the UAE just got a boost as juggernaut parent company, Google, launched a homegrown version of its popular video platform, with YouTube.co.ae
Launched Sunday, the local site’s homepage features the most popular videos in the UAE, along with those that are rising in popularity.
From YouTube’s inception six years ago, the video platform has grown exponentially in the Middle East and North Africa region, with the number of playbacks doubling in the past year to hit an upload tally of one hour of video per minute.
There are 167 million video views a day in MENA, putting the region in the number two spot in the world, behind the United States and ahead of Brazil.
In a statement, Ari Kesisoglu, Managing Director, Middle East North Africa at Google said: “We have seen enormous growth for YouTube in the MENA region and expect this expansion to continue even more significantly with the launch of the UAE domain.”
The parent company states the primary objective of this move is to encourage local content from regional users, “which we believe will be fuelled by this latest development,” according to Kesisoglu.
YouTube has been actively courting online users in this region over the past few years, with 2010 seeing Arabic being offered as a language of choice for the first time.
In 2011, YouTube launched local versions in seven countries in the Mideast, including Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen.
While many analysts state that last year’s Arab Spring played an integral part in increasing online penetration in this region, across social media platforms that include Twitter and Facebook, the popularity can also be attributed to many prominent personalities also making their presence felt of late.
Earlier this year, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, launched his own YouTube channel, which showed rare videos of him flying a helicopter and competing in the Endurance Cup.
Sheikh Mohammed’s Twitter account has more than 770,000 followers, while his Facebook page has nearly 579,000 likes.