The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a lucrative market no one can or should drop, and targeting this area of the world requires more attention.
But most of all, requires to work with experts from the region on how to get the right message out. Here, I shall list just 3 common marketing mistakes I see everyday in Ads targeting Arabs and the MENA region.
1- Rely on stock photos of non-Arabs posing as Arabs – Mother of all marketing mistakes
This is considered as a cultural insult and the mother of all marketing mistakes. Some advertisers hire some Westerners and have them wear a cheap piece of cloth around their head.
Any Arab nationality seeing such ad will know it’s a fake photo / ad, from a fake company with a fake message.
If you want to do business with Arabs then you need to act like a real professional, who knows his customers well.
One who is capable of advertising to them in a way that respects their traditions and culture.
2- Using Google Translator – ONLY!
Many advertisers opt to using robotic translators, like Google Translate and Bable Fish.
Those services are a great option when you want to know what is an Arabic website all about.
But when it comes to proper, high quality translations, nothing competes with a professional human translator. Specially those who know the language, the local slang, and the culture.
A statement might be correct in the authentic Arabic, yet still in some Arabian countries it might sound offensive or meaningless.
3- Arabic is written from Right to Left, with joined letters
How many designers out there think all languages are written from left to right?
And how many of them believe those languages can be written with un-joined letters?
Against to the this broad belief, the Arabic language is unique in this aspect. You write Arabic script starting from the right hand side, and moving on to the left side.
It does not end there.
Arabic is a cursive script where most letters join with each other based on their position in each word.
Short and sincere advice: rely on a professional Arab graphics designer to layout your ad.
Those who live in non-Arab countries might pose a risk, having lost touch with their homelands.