Doha: The American-domiciled social media platform, Snap Inc. is anticipating expanding its presence into Qatar this year, aiming to foster its tech innovations and reach a wider audience.

Speaking to The Peninsula in an interview, Hussein Freijeh, General Manager and Vice President of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at Snap Inc. (Snapchat) remarked that the social media portal is “very popular” within the GCC communities and the usage and engagement is at its peak, eventuating on Qatari-based operations in 2024.

In 2022, the Government Communications Office (GCO) and Snap Inc. signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to expand its operations and presence in the country. Although the firm has a local presence in Qatar, Freijeh highlighted that Snapchat will have its office in Msheireb Downtown in 2024.

Underlining the objectives of opening its Qatar-based operations, Freijeh said that supporting the economy is the foremost reason.

Other reasons for the expansion include creating world-class partnerships with the business community - large, medium, and small and to augment reality in technology and advancement.

He said: “For our Snapchat community including corporations and creators alike, you’ll see us doing a lot of work with businesses here to allow them to access our leadership and augmented reality. Very soon we can open an office and then share it sometimes more like operational in the Msheireb area. We already have a team on the ground that engages with our community and our business partners.”

During the recently concluded Web Summit Qatar 2024, Snapchat officials including Ronan Harris, President of EMEA, and Julie Bogaert, Head of Talent Partnerships at EMEA, among others exchanged ideas on the role Snapchat plays in the Middle East.

The MENA Vice President said that the focus of the sessions was to enlighten the partners on the influence and the firm’s position in enhancing the ecosystem in the region.

“As you know, Snapchat is popular in the GCC and among its community simply because of connections with our real friends and family. Meanwhile, Snapchat opened the door on the social traditional social media and at that time people started feeling a little bit of pressure on social media around what to post and it became like a popularity contest.

“Our key focus in the region is to enrich the communication and relationships between people and allowing people to be their real selves and I think that’s the challenge we’re trying to solve. The level of engagement that we see on the platform is a clear testament to what people really want and I think it presents an opportunity and a challenge at the same time,” he added.

He accentuated that the social media portal was created for genuine communications with loved ones and it turned out to have a massive outcome in the region, as the statistics revealed individuals visiting the application at least 45 times per day.

Freijeh said: “You see people genuine, authentic, and the real self. When you look at how creators and influencers use the platform, they use it as a way to show the reasons why they go for a picture-perfect shoot.”

Emphasising the major trends that help creators and drive engagement on the platform, he said that it is that ability to be themselves and attract the community on Snapchat as their “go-to-platform” to connect authentically to those that matter to them the most.

“Over time, we’ve seen those creators bring really good content to the platform. As a result, you see them now becoming businesses on the platform, creating a product, and then engaging with the audience,” the industry leader remarked.

He also said that 85 percent of the community uses augmented reality experiences every day in order to boost the economy and impact new businesses and technology in the region.

Freijeh said that the reach in Qatar is intense, noting that the objective is to enrich the popularity here and to gain more engagement by supporting the creative community.

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