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Why Referral Programs are popular in the Middle East: 5 Examples of UAE Businesses Who Fueled Success

You built a brilliant application or offer a comprehensive service that caters to the customer’s issues.

Now, you are ready to launch your product/ service.

What’s your worst nightmare at this juncture?

The cost of acquiring customers!

In the present cut-throat competitive business landscape, these customer acquisition costs (CAC) for businesses are rising faster than ever. The average cost of acquiring a new customer varies wildly by industry — with the highest being Software Technology at $395. Typically, early-stage startups are budgeting $50k-$100k per month for user acquisition efforts. This means that for every new customer you acquire, you're shelling out hundreds of dollars in marketing and sales expenses.

But what if there was a way to slash your CAC and tap into a pool of highly qualified leads more than interested in doing business with you? We present you with referral programs.


Referral marketing in the UAE or anywhere worldwide is a powerful way to leverage word-of-mouth to incentivise your existing customers to refer their friends, family, and colleagues to your business. It also offers the advantage of targeting a highly relevant audience. And the best part? They're incredibly cost-effective. 

The Power of Word-Of-Mouth

Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the oldest and most effective forms of advertising. People are more likely to trust recommendations from their friends and family than they are to trust traditional marketing messages. In a survey conducted by Nielsen, 92% of customers affirmed this finding because word-of-mouth recommendations are seen as more credible and unbiased.

Nowadays, word-of-mouth marketing has taken on a new life thanks to social media. People are now more connected than ever before and more likely to share their positive experiences with their online networks. This means that a successful B2B referral program can quickly go viral and reach a large audience of potential customers.



5 Best Referral Programs in the Middle East


Now, let's take a look at some of the best-gamified referral programs in the UAE:

RFZ - Refer a friend to set up a business in UAE with AED 2000 for every new referral 

This program from the Ras Al Khaimah Free Zone (RFZ) offers businesses a unique way to incentivise their employees and customers to refer new businesses to the free zone. The program is gamified with a leaderboard and points system, which makes it even more fun and engaging.


Citigold referral program by Citibank in UAE

This program offers Citigold customers up to AED 6,000 in cash credit for referring new friends to the program. The program is gamified with a progress bar that shows customers how close they are to reaching their next reward. This creates a sense of excitement and motivates them to keep referring more friends.

C-UAE Refer and Earn Program

This program offers businesses up to AED 1500 for each successful referral that leads to a business setup through them. The program is gamified with a points system that can be redeemed for rewards such as travel vouchers and gadgets. This makes it even more appealing to businesses looking to expand their network and reach new customers.

Al Hilal Bank - TouchPoints Referral Program

This program rewards existing customers with TouchPoints for referring friends who open new accounts (up to 10,000 points, equivalent to AED 60). Points can be redeemed for various products and services offered by the bank.


LIV - Invite & Earn Program

This program offers a guaranteed AED 50 reward for both the referrer and the referred friend upon successful account opening (minimum deposit of AED 2,500). Additionally, a bonus of AED 200 can be earned for referring friends who sign up for a LIV credit card.


Why Is It Necessary to Leverage Gamification in Referral Programs?

With referral programs being the alpha marketing tool in acquiring customers, using gamified elements in these programs adds extra sparkle for the users & incentivises their actions. In the context of referral programs, gamification can be used to increase engagement and motivation & ultimately, bring in more customers with the help of referrals.

Here are a few reasons why gamification is so effective for referral programs:

Creates a positive reinforcement loop: When people are rewarded for their actions, they're more likely to repeat them. Gamification provides a way to reinforce the desired behaviours, such as referring friends.

A powerful way to engage customers: Gamification can make referral programs more fun and engaging for customers. This can lead to higher participation rates and better results.

To drive customer acquisition: Gamification can help you reach a wider audience of potential customers. By making your referral program more visible and engaging, you can attract more people to participate.

Turning customers into brand advocates: When customers have a positive experience with your referral program, they're more likely to become brand advocates. This means they'll be more likely to recommend your business to others, even without incentives.

Gamification Reshaping Referral Programs in the Middle East

The spending potential of the Middle East has always meant an enormous prospect for businesses to acquire new customers through referrals & loyalty programs to experience exponential growth. Today, it has become a region with a rapidly growing young population that is increasingly tech-savvy and social media-connected. This makes it the perfect market for gamified referral programs.

But there are a few things to keep in mind when gamifying your referral programs in UAE:

Understand the Middle Eastern market

The Middle Eastern market is diverse, with each country having its own unique culture and customs. It's essential to understand your target audience's specific needs and preferences to develop a referral program that will resonate with them.

Evolution of GenZ in the Consumer Landscape

Gen Z is the first generation to have grown up entirely in the digital age. They are used to instant gratification and expect a seamless and personalised experience. Ensure your referral program is easy to use and offers rewards relevant to Gen Z consumers.

Shift in Spending Habits Toward Experiential Expenses in the Middle East

Middle Eastern consumers increasingly spend their money on experiences such as travel, dining, and entertainment. Your referral program should offer rewards that align with these spending habits.



The Future of Referral Programs in UAE

Gamification is the future of referral programs, and the Middle East is a prime market for this innovative marketing strategy. By understanding the region's unique needs and the evolving preferences of its young population, businesses can develop gamified referral programs that are fun, engaging and highly effective in driving customer acquisition and brand loyalty.

Emerging Trends in Gamification for Referral Programs

Social sharing: Integrating social media sharing capabilities into referral programs can encourage participants to share their achievements and increase program visibility.

Virtual and augmented reality: VR and AR experiences can create immersive and interactive challenges within referral programs, further boosting engagement and excitement.

Adaptive rewards: Tailoring rewards to individual preferences and past behaviour can personalise the experience and incentivise continued participation.

Gamified referral initiative predictions for the Middle East

  • Increased adoption of gamification due to its proven effectiveness and appeal to the tech-savvy Gen Z population.

  • Rise of more sophisticated and data-driven programs that personalise the experience and optimise reward structures.

  • Integration with loyalty programs and other marketing initiatives for a holistic customer engagement strategy.

Explore Gamification for Your Referral Programs With Flyy

Flyy's suite of features includes points systems, badges, leaderboards, and challenges, making it easy to gamify any referral program. With us, you can track the performance of your referral program in real-time and make data-driven decisions to optimise results. 

Check out how we gamify referral programs to know more!

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