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4 tips for universities targeting Middle Eastern students


Over half a million university students from the Middle East study abroad each year, making it the second largest region in the world for students studying abroad (after China).

The Middle Eastern countries all have ambitious plans for future development, with the majority of their five-year plans focusing on education development.

This willingness to improve education levels within their populations is shown both in the support they provide to university students wanting to study abroad and the increasing levels of support they are providing to women wanting to pursue higher education.

So, what can universities do to appeal to this driven and wealthy population of prospective students?

We have put together a guide on how higher education institutions can go about targeting Middle Eastern students, and this blog post pulls out some of the key points. Without further ado, let’s delve into our four top tips.


1. Create content in Arabic

English proficiency is low across the Middle East, and whilst most students will take English classes once they have been accepted into an English-speaking university, be aware that their level of English might not be so high during the application process. For this reason, and because Arabic is the preferred language of Middle Eastern prospective students to search online, it is advisable that you translate the most important pages on your website into Arabic. Important pages are those containing key information such as how to apply, documents required and visa information.

2. Focus your advertising on specific academic subjects

Programmatic advertising is a very useful way of targeting online audiences in the Middle East. Be aware that prospective students from this region tend to look for information on specific study programmes and subjects. For this reason, it is a good idea to create display and video advertising campaigns promoting specific subjects or courses offered by your university.

3. Use social media – but check which networks are most important in your target country

In 2017, 83% of prospective students said that they used social media to research universities prior to making a decision to apply. The main things these prospective students are looking at are how well a university communicates with its students, and how diverse and international it is. Facebook is the most popular social network across the Middle East, except in Saudi Arabia where Twitter is the most popular instead.

4. Keep up to date with the latest news

International political relations can be complex in the Middle East. For example, Saudi Arabia recently cut all ties with Canada, a decision which involved ordering all its students currently in Canada to return home so that they could be relocated to new, non-Canadian universities. Saudi Arabia has great influence in the Middle East, so it is predicted that the number of students going to Canada from the entire Middle East region will decline in the coming years. Keeping up to date with news and current affairs such as this will help you to concentrate your efforts in the right places.

I hope this has given you a useful introduction to how universities can best target Middle Eastern students online. For more in-depth information, you can read the full guide here.

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Aman Raffi

Programmatic Campaign Manager at Webcertain
Aman is a Programmatic Campaign Manager at Webcertain, where he manages international programmatic digital projects for all Webcertain clients. He has been involved in developing international programmatic trading, setting up DSPs, and heading the programmatic unit, the campaign management process, and establishing best practices for Webcertain. He is involved in building strategic optimisation, omni-channel online strategy and testing frameworks to deliver outstanding results for clients. Aman has experience in several industries such as aviation, automotive, FMCG, QSR, luxury goods, telecom and technology, real estate, government bodies, and more. He likes keeping up to date with the latest digital trends and is keen to always improve the digital experience.

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