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A telematics market you should know about: the Middle East

Key learnings from the challenges we faced when selling telematics solutions to Saudi Arabia
Daniel Lohr
Automotive & Mobility Specialist

If you do not have any insight or experience in the automotive market landscape in the Middle Eastern (ME) region, it might not cross your mind to start thinking about these potential markets for a telematics solution. But if you are searching for new opportunities in emerging markets, Middle East is one to add to your list. It is definitely time to start doing business in this region, especially with insurances in countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). They support new technologies and are open to researching innovative solutions in order to meet the growing demands of the marketplace.

We started our telematics journey in the Middle East already some years ago, mainly focusing on the Saudi Arabian market. Everything began with a pitch during one of our meetings with a client. Fortunately, at that time telematics solutions started to gain traction in the country: insurance companies wanted to use telematics to increase their customers' safety on the road. Although the interest started quite late compared to other markets, the idea of telematics and its benefits were becoming more and more widely accepted. This was true both in the Saudi marketplace and in other countries in the Middle East.

The challenges we encountered

Expanding into a new market always means looking at the current implementation of a solution and assessing what needs to change. But what are the differences we are referring to?

Modifying the mobile application

One of the most obvious challenges is the localization of the mobile application. At the time, our solution Coloride already supported several languages, but Arabic had to be added. Besides the implementation of the translations and the Arabic script, the whole design needed to be adapted in order to support a right-to-left alignment. The switch between a left-to-right and a right-to-left design should always be linked to the chosen language in the mobile phone settings to ensure a good user experience. We are glad that now our solution is ready to expand into different markets with different scripts and languages, like Chinese . If you are curious about how we manage several languages in Coloride, there is another article worth a read.

In addition to localization, the provided solution should always reflect the characteristics of the driver segment that the insurance companies are aiming for. Our experience shows that the choice and acceptance of functionalities of the solution highly depends on cultural aspects and preferences. One example of several is the choice of engagement modules in Saudi Arabia, which differs from other regions, like Western Europe and the US. Our expansion into this market revealed, for example, that the ‘My Garage’ feature of Coloride is in great demand. The module enables users to purchase and modify virtual cars with their in-app driver score-related points. The tuned cars can be later sold and the revenue can be redeemed for vouchers.

Due to the modular approach of our white-labelled app, we can adapt the solution to the specific client needs in order to match their target customer segment.

Legal considerations

Expanding into new markets always requires taking all legal aspects into consideration. From the very beginning, we engaged legal counsels and data protection experts at Swiss Re and Movingdots to ensure complete adherence to local regulations. They are currently working in close cooperation with their counterparts on our clients' side to satisfy what local law prescribes. Besides adherence to law, taking into account that insurance is a regulated business, a regulator's opinion matters.

Digitalization and data

In regards to telematics, one of the main benefits for insurance companies is to be able to understand the behavioural risk of their clients. The basis of such risk assessment is always data. Although countries in the Middle East have made huge strides in recent years when it comes to digitalization, processing and IT-systems, the insurance industry has not yet fully adapted. As an example, data that are usually available in other countries (e.g., mailing addresses or telephone numbers) might be incorrect or missing there. In terms of client onboarding, where e-mail addresses are usually used to send login information, missing or incorrect data are going to result in challenges, and new processes must be setup. Our agile approach helped us here. That is why our solution supports different login mechanisms, such as username and password or One-Time-Password (OTP), in order to meet the requirements of the different markets.


Entering the Middle East market with our telematics proposal has been an incredible experience; challenging but exciting. The customization of the solution to a new market is the real success factor, and only by closely cooperating with local teams and the clients, we can overcome difficulties. Our journey has just begun, and we are looking forward to the next steps in making Coloride a success story in the Middle East and beyond.

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