Why you should localize your app or game for Middle East and North Africa

By Mohammad El-Saadi, Business Development, Google Play

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is a fast growing market for app and game developers on Google Play, and localizing is crucial to making the most of the opportunity. For example, the main grossing apps & games in Saudi Arabia have localized their store listings and their actual app and game on Google Play.

The British team behind the Skyscanner travel app had already localised it into more than 15 languages, yet the launch in Arabic was a huge milestone for them. Arabic speaking users really appreciated the localization and the app’s average user rating increased from 4.62☆ to 4.77☆ after localization. Users engaged with the app longer, with an increase of 30% in their average session duration. Additionally 50% more travellers have been redirected to Skyscanner partners to book flight, hotel and car hire deals.

Skyscanner opening screen in English and in Arabic

But how difficult is it to correctly localize your app or game to Arabic?

The team at Skyscanner managed to develop Right-To-Left (RTL) Arabic language support within the app in two weeks: “Our initial fear was that we would need lots of manual coding for the layouts. However, the Android layout system handled all of the cases really well. We were already using *Start and *End margin and padding in line with guidelines, but there’s also Android Studio support and Lint check to fix any issues automatically.” says Tamas Chrenoczy-Nagy, Senior Software Engineer.

Many other top apps and games developers are successfully investing in localizing for MENA users. For example, when game developer Pocket Gems localised War Dragons, the installs by Arabic speaking users tripled. Their percentage of revenue from Arabic language players also went from effectively 0% to ~1.5%.

We just refreshed the Now in Arabic collection (MENA only) with 16 newly localized apps and games, including titles like Netflix, Periscope and Clash of Queen Dragons. It will be live until May 11 on Google Play in the following countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates.

Check our Localization Checklist for best practices when localizing for any language, and our Going Global Playbook. When your app or game in Arabic is ready, you can self-nominate to be part of future refreshes of the Now in Arabic collection by filling in this form.

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