Canalys pointed to a raft of external factors as fuelling a 39 per cent year-on-year increase in Middle East smartphone shipments during Q1 (excluding Turkey), though its numbers make hard reading for Samsung and Apple.

The research company noted the timing of Eid celebrations as a factor driving shipments to 12.2 million, though this was the tip of an iceberg which also included a broader economic confidence spurred by falling inflation and diversification away from the region’s traditional reliance on oil.

Canalys noted “economic and social reforms” played a part, along with “an expanding expatriate population, especially in the Gulf Cooperation Council economies”.

Saudi Arabia booked a gain of 54 per cent, largely credited to tourism, with shipments to the UAE up 19 per cent.

Iraq booked 112 per cent growth: Canalys stated there was high demand for devices in the sub-$200 category, with improved models from Chinese vendors catching buyers’ eyes.

Canalys stated “geopolitical tensions” hindered the market in Israel, with shipments “a significant” 20 per cent lower. Qatar was down 3 per cent and Kuwait up 4 per cent.

Samsung retained top spot with shipments of 3.1 million units, down 17 per cent, while Apple’s number fell 14 per cent to 1.2 million.

Senior analyst Manish Pravinkumar said both vendors “prioritised strengthening their premium portfolios”, noting Samsung’s ASP was 19 per cent higher, largely due to demand for its latest Galaxy S24 range.

“On the other hand, Chinese OEMs continued to expand in the region,” Pravinkumar noted.

Canalys rated TRANSSION in second place on shipments of 2.7 million, up 194 per cent; Xiaomi third (2.3 million, up 132 per cent); and Honor fifth (800,000, up 209 per cent).