Smartphone shipment volumes in the Middle East grew 16.4% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2012, making two out of every five phones in the region a smartphone, according to IDC.
IDC includes Turkey but excludes Egypt and North Africa in its Middle East figures.
“"As the smartphone markets of the developed world become saturated, the Middle East is becoming more important to handset makers as it encompasses countries with high disposable incomes and a hunger for the latest mobile technologies,” said Simon Baker, program manager for mobile handsets at IDC CEMA.
“As such, we expect to see vendors increasing their marketing activities in the region and expanding distribution," added Baker.
Nokia remains the brand leader for the overall Middle East mobile phone market, with 45.2% share of the market's volume.
Samsung, which ranks second, had 18.3% share of the overall handset market for Q2 2013, but held nearly half of the smartphone market, where it outsold Nokia by almost five to one.
Android is top in terms of operating system, with 60% share of overall smartphone volume but it is no longer moving further ahead of the other operating systems. Competition is beginning to heat up as iPhone sales rise and Nokia turns the corner with its Lumia Windows Phone range.
IDC believes that Microsoft’s takeover of Nokia’s handset operations will only raise the stakes, as it will bring more financial muscle behind the push to put the Windows Phone OS into entry-level smartphones sold in emerging markets.
Meanwhile, Chinese vendors are beginning to become more competitive against Samsung, increasing the rivalry among vendors of Android devices.