Zoom sees 900% user growth in UAE as remote working picks up amid Covid-19

The platform gained 100,000 new users within a week after the UAE authorised its use to facilitate remote working

FILE - This April 18, 2019, file photo shows a sign for Zoom Video Communications ahead Nasdaq IPO in New York. 
Video app company Zoom said Thursday, June 11 2020, it regretted that some meetings involving U.S.-based Chinese dissidents were disrupted, as meanwhile a prominent Hong Kong activist said his account was blocked despite the city’s guarantees of free speech. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
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Video conferencing platform Zoom's user base in the UAE grew 900 per cent to reach 1 million within a month after the country authorised its use in March, the company said.

Within the first week after the ban was lifted, Zoom gained 100,000 new free and paid users in the UAE, the US-based firm said in a statement on Sunday. In addition, 250 schools have also taken advantage of Zoom’s offer to lift the 40 minutes meeting time limit for the education sector.

“At Zoom, we continue to have conversations with the region’s governments about how [it] is a valuable tool that helps increase productivity and growth, meets the highest standards of security for its users, and can support the development of a digitally-based global economy,” Sam Tayan, managing director for the Middle East and Africa at Zoom, said.

The company is “leaning into the Gulf and is very optimistic about the growth potential in the Middle East", he added.

In March, UAE authorities eased restrictions on the usage of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)  platforms including Microsoft’s Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom to facilitate remote work and distance learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Zoom, which has been adopted by businesses, schools, universities and individuals, is used for social networking, as well as for entertainment and fitness classes over the last two months.

“Zoom is committed to infrastructure, marketing and services investment going forward in the UAE and looks forward to the continued cooperation with the government,” Mr Tayan said.

The video conferencing platform's performance in the UAE is in line with its global user growth, which have soared in the wake of the pandemic.

The Covid-19 crisis has driven higher demand for distributed, face-to-face interactions and collaboration using Zoom ... use cases have grown rapidly as people integrated Zoom into their work, learning, and personal lives

Zoom said the number of paying customers increased to 265,400 at the end of the first quarter this year, a quarter-on-quarter rise of 225 per cent.

“The Covid-19 crisis has driven higher demand for distributed, face-to-face interactions and collaboration using Zoom ... use cases have grown rapidly as people integrated Zoom into their work, learning, and personal lives,” Eric Yuan, founder and chief executive of the firm said earlier this month.

The company’s first quarter net profit for the three months ending March 30 climbed on the back of higher revenue and number of users.

Net profit to shareholders surged to $27 million (Dh99.5m), which was 135-times the $200,000 earned in the same period a year ago. Revenue for the period reached $328.2m – a yearly increase of 169 per cent.

In its guidance for the second quarter, the company forecast revenue in the range of $495m to $500m, and for the full year it expects sales of between $1.77 billion and $1.8bn. In its last financial year ending January 31, the company made $622.6m in revenue.

Zoom has also attracted scrutiny from regulators and privacy advocates who have voiced concerns about the platform's security.

Last week, the company said it would offer end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to both paying customers and free users after initially saying that the extra security would only be given to paying customers.

Earlier this month, Zoom said it might not be able to provide E2EE to free users to avoid any illegal activity on its platform.

At that time, Mr Yuan said the company was excluding free calls to ensure it was possible to work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other local law enforcement agencies to prevent some people using Zoom for unlawful activities.

However, the company backtracked later after it faced widespread criticism from various rights groups globally.


Gallery: Coronavirus in the UAE