Top Middle East podcasts that should be on your radar
It’s no secret that the podcast scene in the Middle East is booming! Aptly enough - given the Middle East’s rich history that is steeped in oral tradition. Have you ever met an Arab who doesn’t love a good story?
Talkwalker Quick Search: 404.5K mentions of "podcast" or بودكاست in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region from April 2019-May 2020
According to data released by markettiers MENA, there are 5.1 million regular podcast listeners in Saudi Arabia and a further 1.3 million regular podcast listeners in the UAE who, interestingly, rank miles ahead of non-MENA listeners when it comes to trust in podcasts (versus radio & TV, for example).
The medium has proven to excel in engagement, positive recall, and positive brand sentiment. A real opportunity for brands!
And, indeed, brands are starting to harness the power of podcast marketing whether it’s through making their own podcasts or collaborating with existing ones as guests or through ad sponsorship.
Why should you - or your client - invest in podcasts?
To tell interesting stories about your brand to the public
To communicate internally with your teams in the age of remote/flex working
To build trust using a medium that naturally lends itself to a level of intimacy and loyalty that is hard to achieve with other forms of advertising
To engage niche communities who are true fans or aficionados in your brand’s industry
To share expert opinions or advice
To create a safe and inclusive space for your community
To spark new, honest conversations in a region that’s burgeoning with potential & opportunity
To stay ahead of the curve and ensure your brand is digital-forward
To support a local industry and contribute to the digital revival of the rich Middle Eastern history of oral tradition
Key figures about the state of podcasts in the Middle East
There have been over 404K online mentions of podcasts in MENA since April 2019
These mentions have generated 1.7M engagement
The total estimated reach of the online mentions of podcasts in the Middle East in the past 13 months is 14.9B
The majority of online conversation around podcasts in the Middle East originates in Saudi Arabia (214K) followed by the United Arab Emirates (49.5K)
The demographic engaging in online conversations about podcasts in the Middle East is 64% male, 36% female
55% of the conversation around podcasts in the Middle East is in Arabic and 34% is in English. Other languages being used in the regional online conversation are French, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Czech, Indoneisan, and Thai respecitvely.
91% of regular podcast listeners in the UAE trust podcasts more than other traditional forms of media
To help you keep up with the booming podcast industry, I put together a comprehensive list of podcasts from the Middle East as well as non-MENA based podcasts that discuss the region remotely. Download the full list or browse through some of my top picks below!
Kerning Cultures is a leading Middle East podcast network on a mission to tell stories that the MENA region can relate to. From the region for the region, these podcasts aspire to tell stories that you’d want to discuss with friends and family. The Kerning Cultures Network features 2 English shows, Kerning Cultures (stories from the Middle East and the spaces in between) and Al Empire (stories of exceptional Arabs around the world and their journeys to the top). There is a recorded number of 2,000 listeners of this podcast.
Check out this interview with co-founders Hebah Fisher and Razan Alzayani in Friday magazine!
Another podcast network making waves in the region is the Saudi Mstdfr network. The Arabic word mstdfr transaltes to geek and reflects the founder’s vision to embrace and celebrate the term.
In this English-langauge podcast, Omar Tom, Reem Hameed and Mohamed Akkaoui discuss ‘third culture kid’ experiences in the Arab world. Highly relatable to many millennial Arabs - or Neo-Bedouins, as they call them - the show covers the impact of this third culture kid upbringing on various aspects of life, including business, music, and relationships.
A Saudi Arabic-langauge podcast covering all things pop culture, including literature, anime, TV, comic, manga, video games, and more. One of the podcast shows from House Zofi podcast entertainment network.
This podcast features inspiring and raw conversations from the world of entrepreneurship and personal development. It features successful entrepreneurs, start up founders, life coaches, and business influencers. The podcast aims to share tips and tricks on how to overcome problems and how to achieve goals while maintaining a balanced and fulfilling life.
Arabic-language show from Sowt podcast network that discusses issues that are socially stigmatized. The Jordan-based Sowt network veers away from reappropriating Western podcasts but rather seeks to create original content for the Middle East audience.
On this podcast, Rana Nawas, chats with female business leaders, celebrities, and inspirational figures to share their stories and secrets of success with other women in the region.
Host, Hussam ElHage, chats with his guests about their interesting journeys that saw them end up in the fascinating world of media and marketing.
Fnjan (فنجان مع عبدالرحمن أبومالح)
Fnjan is an Arabic-language podcast that was founded in 2015 covering a variety of topics that, at their core, explore the idea of diversity and differences. Saudi Founder and host, Abdulrahman Abumalih, releases weekly episodes and has interviewed an impressive line-up of guests so far including CEO of KBW Ventures Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud and art collector, lecturer, and writer Sheikh Sultan bin Sooud Al Qassemi. Check out Abdulrahman’s full interview with Sekka magazine here.
The podcast is available on a range of platforms but, most interestingly, is now accessible on Saudi Airlines flights too as part of the inflight entertainment system!
One of the UAE's largest podcast networks that aims to unlock the untapped potential of on-demand audio content in the Middle East. It produces both original and branded shows under the banners of AMAEYA FM and AMAEYA Creative, respectively.
Sciware is an Arabic-language podcast hosted by Mohamed Qasem about science and technology. In his episodes, he discusses scientific or tech-related topics at length and delivers the latest updates in the world of science & technology.
This Arabic language podcast is based out of Kuwait and hosted by certified relationship coach, Dalal Al-Janaie. Dalal uses the platform to help people improve their relationships with friends, family and themselves.
Wamda is a platform of programs and networks that are created to utilize its core competencies in community development, media, and research to constantly engage with young, innovative and promising entrepreneurs so they can start and create their businesses. In addition to rolling out services for corporations and governments to integrate them into the ecosystem, and link them to startups.
Their podcasts feature thought leaders who provide insight into the startup ecosystem and general business best practices.
An English podcast based out the UAE and hosted by the journalists of the reputable Arabian Business magazine. Aiming to provide in-depth analysis of the top headlines in the region and globally, the Arabian Business podcast will cover a wide range of topics and opinions. The podcast launched in March 2020 and will be airing every week on Tuesdays.
Hosted from Amman, Jordan, Al Bawaba brings and dissects regional news for The Gateway podcast. The Gateaway strives to give attention to news that's poorly or under-reported.
The National is a UAE-based news service - widely regarded as the Middle East's leading English news source.
Podcast fans will be happy to know they can now keep up with The National via their range of podcasts including "Beyond the Headlines," "Business Extra," "Pocketful of Dirhams," "Books of My Life," and "The Cricket Pod."
The beloved UAE-based radio station has expanded its offering through a w wide range of podcasts covering business, lifestyle, entertainment and more. Currently active podcasts are: Bitesize Business Breakfast, The Agenda, Helen Farmer, Off Script with Chris & Robbie, Extra Time, The Night Shift & Talking of Books.
An Arabic language podcast hosted by Jassim & Sultan, helping employees succeed at work by exploring the principles of management
PSA: keep an eye out on the Middle East Podcast Forum, the region’s first and only platform that rallies together a mix of established podcast creators, enthusiasts, and avid listeners from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.