Need for apps a 'developer' for Middle East talent

Alvin R. Cabral/Dubai
Filed on May 25, 2021
Apple's ecosystem is bonded by a unique interconnection between its platforms.

Region's growing community under the spotlight as Apple's WWDC fast approaching

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is fast approaching, and once again the stars of the show are in the spotlight — and they’ve become more equipped and versatile in churning out apps for just about every need.

Though forced into a virtual format beginning last year owing to safety measures against the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 edition still attracted a record number of participation, proving that app development never stops.

Apple’s App Store ecosystem has exploded in recent years as more developers flock to the platform, even coordinating with each other. At present, there are around 1.8 million apps available on it, with more than 175 storefronts in over 40 languages as well. Industry studies have also rated it to be a “safe and trusted place to discover and download” apps.

The success and reach of the App Store has also long been felt in the Middle East. Dubai, in particular, has become a hot spot for app development, producing some of the most bankable apps on the platform.

“Indeed, the developer community is growing in the region and we can see that more and more successful apps are now based in Dubai,” Abdellatif Lyamani, a developer based in Dubai, said.

He adds that the community of Swift — Apple’s own programming language — is very active and is managed by “some of the most talented developers in the region” in conjunction with the Apple Mena team, whom he describes as “always available and supportive”.

Lyamani, who is behind the Mixgram Editor collage app, says that the platform allows developers to have more time on focusing on value to end-users rather than developing complex functions.

Apple's ecosystem is bonded by a unique interconnection between its platforms. And while already strong individually, the company has continuously rolled out more specific functions on each of its tools that not only ensures easier and more powerful experience for developers, but also a seamless integration between hardware and software across all of its devices for top-class functionality.

Then of course there are cases when making apps is born out of necessity — and a personal one at that: Massimiliano Picchi got an Apple Watch in 2016, but when he couldn’t find an app that would work even without an iPhone, he decided to take matters into his own hands.

“I remembered I was a coder 20 years ago, so I downloaded Xcode, read a couple of blogs and started,” said Picchi, another Dubai-based developer, referring to another of Apple’s software development tools.

The result was the Waterspeed GPS tracker app. Picchi’s efforts have become collaborative, with more than 100 beta testers going to the water each week to test the app’s new features.

Women are also partaking in this endeavour and at an increasingly active pace.

“Yes, the local [developer] community in the region is growing, although I want to see more women in it,” said Suna Zoabi-Othman, the founder of meditation app Tawazon.

For one to be successful in this space, she highly recommends being one step ahead, prepare a timeline well in advance and be prepared to be flexible.

“When you match your vision and mission and then attach it to creative technology, you will see how fast and accurate your message will reach your audience,” Palestine-based Zoabi-Othman stresses.

The app development space is indeed growing, and competition is expected. Coming up with unique ideas, therefore, will set oneself apart from the rest of the field. App development has become easy today that even children and senior citizens are able to come up with a good number of them.

“Don’t hesitate; there is room for everyone and it is worth a try,” Lyamani said.

And while it will be challenging at certain points, the end results will always speak for themselves, with diligence and hard work.

“Try to do something useful for your user. Increase the quality and keep up the challenge,” added Picchi. “It will be fun, hard, tiring, rewarding and incredibly outstanding.”

“I do believe it could put pressure on continued excellence and improvement, yet from our side, it keeps us excited,” Zoabi-Othman said.

“Technology is here to serve humanity, despite the fact that sometimes, as humans, we feel lost in that mission.”

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