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WHAT’S DRIVING THE MIDDLE EAST?

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From electric vehicle charging networks to fuel forecourts, transport infrastructure in the Middle East is evolving to keep pace with the region’s changing needs.  Here, we look at the latest mobility trends and the role of seamless payments in delivering convenience for all drivers, whatever type of vehicle they’re using.

It’s estimated that there are around 50 million vehicles in the Middle East (ME).  While the vast majority run on oil-based fuel, electric vehicles (EVs) are beginning to make their presence felt – supported by government modernisation or ‘Vision’ documents in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. 

As a result, the Middle East EV market is expected to witness massive growth in the next five years – rising from US$2.7 million in 2023 to US$7.65 billion by 2028.

According to Deloitte, market research shows that Middle Eastern consumers are drawn to EVs that are futuristic looking, mechanically advanced, and filled to the brim with digital innovations.  It’s why the region’s automakers and suppiers are investing in EVs that appeal to this discerning clientele.

No matter how advanced EVs, public charging facilities are key to widescale adoption

Despite the quality of the vehicles and growing support for EVs, anxiety about driving long distances or making frequent trips without easy and convenient access to EV charging facilities can hold potential users back.

To combat this, ME governments are now actively working to create a network of charging stations that will make EVs more accessible and convenient for drivers.  This is creating new opportunities for those involved in building, deploying, integrating and running EV charging stations. It’s also driving innovation, for instance EV charging network, Electromin, recently rolled-out Saudi’s first ultra-fast DC chargers. 

Reflecting the rapid rise in investment, the ME EV charging market, valued at USD 246.64 million in 2022, is predicted to reach USD 1437.7 million by 2030.   

The ME petro market is also evolving to keep up – especially in Saudi Arabia (KAS)

With a population of 36.3 million and 17.2% of the World’s proven oil reserves, KSA is ME’s largest economy – and one of the World’s fastest growing.  Here, new permit rules mean that individually owned fuel outlets will transition to company owned forecourts. Consequently, multi-nationals players are now entering the market, and local companies are becoming corporates as their networks grow.

Unlike western countries where forecourt numbers are declining, KAS roadside petrostations are expected to almost double from 10,0000 to at least 18,000, creating an exciting opportunity for convenience retailers.

Both petro and EV markets have specific requirements for robust payment acceptance

Having the right payments system in place is vital for both EV and petro applications – to deliver the smooth experiences ME drivers expect.  Traditionally a cash-economy, consumer checkout needs in ME are changing – and fast.

In 2023, digital wallets constituted approximately 20% of the total online spending in the MENA region.  Notably, digital payment adoption is high in countries like the UAE, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, where between 7 and 9 out of 10 adults embraced digital payments in 2022.  Contactless payments are now widely accepted and used, and QR code-based payments are gaining popularity in a wide varierty of settings.

Armed with contactless cards and mobile phones, the region’s EV drivers want to use these to pay at charging stations – and they will expect to do it quickly, conveniently and with minimal fuss.  The same goes for drivers using fuel forecourts, demand for convenience is pushing pay at pump, unattended payment terminals and kiosks for faster retailing.

Castles Technology is helping EV charging networks and fuel providers rise to the challenge.

Known for its innovative Android POS solutions, Castles Technology is also a champion of unattended payments.  Our fully integrated payments devices, card contactless and QR readers, are used extensively for all types of outdoor applications including EV charging, pay at pump and kiosks. Fully compliant, and with durability and rugged performance built in, they are ideal solutions for the rapidly evolving Middle East market. 

Connected payments devices can also be used in conjunction with our agnostic terminal management solution, CasHub, which enables over-the-air diagnostics, updates and data gathering.  Not only that, they are supported extensively by local partners and integrators to ensure comprehensive support throughout the Middle East. 

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