According to the latest Canalys research, the Middle East (excluding Turkey) experienced a 3.5% annual decline in smartphone shipments reaching only 8.8 million units during Q1 2023. This decline marks an end to the region’s nine-month growth streak, however, it outperformed the global market's 14% decline in the quarter.

Economic challenges such as inflation, interest rate hikes, and geopolitical uncertainties impacted the region. Despite these hurdles, Samsung and Apple maintained their market volumes through strong after-sale services and brand perception. Xiaomi aimed to break into the high-end market, while Tecno and Infinix targeted the mid-low segment in key markets like Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Among Middle Eastern countries, Saudi Arabia saw modest growth of 1%, driven by increased consumer spending on essential items. The UAE faced a 3% decline, Iraq experienced lower demand, and Kuwait had an 11% decline due to consumer reluctance to upgrade. In contrast, Israel achieved a remarkable 26% growth, propelled by demand for premium smartphones and its thriving tech industry.

Looking ahead Canalys expects the Middle East smartphone market to maintain similar shipment levels as the previous year in 2023 as the broader Middle East region continues to face economic challenges.