Middle East and Central Asia Creator Economy

Emergence of the Creator Economy in the Middle East and Central Asia


The creator economy, which encompasses all types of creators generating income from online content, is rapidly growing across the globe. The Middle East and Central Asia region has also seen a marked increase in creators and content entrepreneurs over the past few years, positioning the region as an emerging hotspot for this new sector.+

Rise of Social Media Influencers

One of the first segments of the creator economy to take off in the region has been social media influencers. Countries in the Middle East and Central Asia have some of the highest rates of social media penetration globally. Platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok have enabled a new generation of digital natives to cultivate large followings by sharing lifestyle, beauty, cooking and other types of content.

Influencers from the region now command sizable international followerships as well, making collaborations and product endorsements a viable source of income. Major companies have begun dedicating larger portions of their marketing budgets to influencer campaigns in the region. Platforms have also recognized this opportunity by hiring regional teams, applying localization strategies and running dedicated influencer programs.

The influencer economy is projected to reach $15 billion globally by 2022 according to research firm Mediakix. The Middle East and Central Asia region is estimated to account for over 10% of this total market size, indicating huge potential for further growth. Established influencers in countries like Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan and others are paving the path for aspiring creators.

Digital Creators in Music, Art and Film

Beyond influencers, creators across other artistic fields are also leveraging online platforms to establish their brands and sell directly to audiences. In music, independent artists are self-releasing songs on streaming services and cultivating fan followings on YouTube and social media to sell merchandise, tickets, and music rights.

The region’s underground indie music scenes in particular have benefited from this model, bypassing traditional label structures. Visual artists too are opening online stores to sell prints, photographs, and digital artwork internationally. Vloggers, podcasters and independent filmmakers are self-publishing and crowdfunding projects. With lower barriers to entry and distribution compared to offline models, these fields have seen exponential growth.

New digital media startups focused on creators have further catalyzed this expansion. Companies like Musiio based in Cairo help independent musicians distribute, promote and monetize their work efficiently. Pakistan’s KoTech Studios and Tabeer bolster filmmakers through workshops, funding and exhibition opportunities. Such platforms provide valuable resources allowing creators to flourish professionally.

Growth of In-Demand Skills Creators

Beyond creative fields, the Middle East and Central Asia region is also producing highly skilled “knowledge creators”. Tutorial creators teaching languages, coding, finance, design and professional skills through online courses and educational content are steadily emerging. As education systems still have room for improvement, the demand for supplementary learning has opened up opportunities for these.

YouTube has become a top destination to access such content for free or paid courses through affiliate programs. Platforms specializing in online education have also launched in the region. Dubai-based Menadrive for instance connects individual tutors with students online or in-person across the Gulf region. Their services are in high demand given the transience of expatriate populations.

Overall demand for self-paced, on-demand and specialized content will continue propelling this category of creators. Skill-based creators may have long-term sustainable careers training global audiences online catered specifically for regional sensibilities and career aptitudes. As digital education expands, their role is set to become increasingly vital.

Government Support for Creators

National governments across the Middle East and Central Asia are cognizant of the economic impact and job opportunities inherent in supporting creators. Several have launched programs and funds to foster this nascent industry. Turkey for instance runs the Presidential Fikriyat Platform dedicated to empowering thought leaders and content producers with grants and partnerships.

Egypt’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology partnered with YouTube to mentor 100 emerging creators through workshops and resource support. Even smaller nations like Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are crafting policies incentivizing digital content production and startup communities backing creative ventures. Tax exemptions, soft loans and dedicated technology zones serve as valuable catalysts.

Regional governments are also spearheading international outreach events connecting local talent with global opportunities. Dubai’s inaugural Global Digital Influencers Summit hosted 200 top influencers and 30 brands, signaling the emirate’s commitment to cultivating a supportive ecosystem. As state support scales up the infrastructure backing creators, the region will cement itself as prime destinations for new ventures.

Overall, With over 1 billion internet users projected in the Middle East and Central Asia by 2025, the expanding digital landscape and rising youth populations portend continued ascent of creators within the local economy. Accelerated by internet penetration, low barriers to distribution online and growing digital literacy rates, the sector will keep empowering business owners and self-employed talent across creative and knowledge domains.

Strong government facilitation through dedicated zones, funding programs, skills building initiatives and global alliances will additionally thrust the region into becoming a premiere international hub for the creative economy. Overall, creators within the Middle East and Central Asia stand at the cusp of seismic transformation, catalyzed by the full-fledged recognition and systematic nurturing of their formidable potential.



  1. Source: CoherentMI, Public sources, Desk research
  2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it