QR Codes in Middle East

QR Codes are extensively being used in the West for both operational and marketing use cases. In China and South East Asia too, these square-shaped codes have become quite the rage. However, another region is rapidly adopting the technology – The Middle East, primarily driven by city administrations, government bodies, and large private brands.

Here are 11 examples on how QR Codes are being used in the region:

1. Unified Addressing System ‘Onwani’, Abu Dhabi

In 2015, the Department of Muncipal Affairs collaborated with three municipalities of the Emirates – Abu Dhabi city, Al Ain city, and the Western Region – to create a unified addressing system called Onwani that puts a QR Code sticker on thousands of unique locations or addresses in the three municipalities

When scanned, the QR Codes placed on the selected locations (streets and buildings) show the exact location on a map, road directions, and provide details about the historical background of the area to explain how the street was named.

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Due to this new addressing system, in Abu Dhabi alone there will be 66,000 unique building numbers, 6,600 street names and 17,000 new street name signs.

2. QR Codes on DEWA Website, Dubai

The Government of Dubai is using QR Codes on its Dubai Electricity and Water Authority website to make it simple for website visitors to save contact details, customer care number, email ID, and address on their smartphones. Using these QR Codes, visitors can also use their phones to make online payments, suggestions, and complaints easily.

qr code middle east

3. Smart Mosques Initiative by IACAD, Dubai

In 2014, the Dubai Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD) started the Smart Mosque Initiative by placing QR Codes in nine mosques.

On scanning the QR Codes, worshipers can get access to the mosques’ information such as history, construction, capacity and category of the mosque and e-services such as donations, suggestions, complaints and faults reporting.

qr code middle east

4. Ali Alghanim Valet Parking Service, Kuwait

As reported in 2014, Ali Alghanim & Sons Automotive, the exclusive importer of BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce, Land Rover and McLaren, became the first automotive dealership in Kuwait to offer valet parking services through a partnership with Parking Pal, a valet parking service provider. Scanning a QR Code is one of the ways, car owners can request valet parking.

“We are happy to be working together with Ali Alghanim & Sons Automotive in providing the best valet parking service. Using the latest technology, which includes the auto request via text messages or IVR system or the scanning of the Q-R code, we are truly proud of this collaboration as we always strive to improve our services and exceed the expectations of our valued customers” – Walid Asaloa, GM and founder of Parking Pal

5. Vodafone Virtual Store Scan&Go, Qatar

In 2014, Vodafone launched a virtual store Scan&Go where customers can shop for smartphones, subscribe to prepaid and postpaid plans,  add credit to prepaid numbers, or get international calling or data cards simply by scanning QR Codes placed on walls of the store.

Even if our shops are closed or even if customers are not physically present inside our stores, they can still enjoy retail convenience. With Scan&Go, we’re open even when we’re closed. We can convert a bus stop into a virtual store or project these virtual stores onto walls, even on the great pyramids of Giza, on top of a skyscraper, or in the middle of the desert – Khalifa al-Haroon, Head of Innovation, Vodafone Qatar

qr code middle east

6. Food Ordering using QR Codes in Kempinski Hotel, Ajman

In 2015, Kempinski Hotel, Ajman used a QR Code on ‘unique pyramids’ in guestrooms to allow guests to easily order food. When this QR Code is scanned using a smartphone or tablet, a food and beverage menu opens and is available in four languages – English, German, Arabic and Russian.

The highlight is definitely the speed of ordering – the moment you place your order, it is in the system and is directly forwarded to the kitchen. It’s the ease of ordering and the quickness of delivery that makes everything hassle-free – Anish Kuttan, Director of Food and Beverage, Kempinski Hotel Ajman

qr code middle east

7. Controlling Cheque Fraud using QR Codes, Turkey

On Jun 15, 2015, Turkish Banking Institution, Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) (Kredi Kayıt Bürosu), and the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges in collaboration introduced a QR Code system for cheques. This system allowed cheque holders to review data on the credibility of the cheque issuer by using ‘Findeks’ application on their smart phones.

The objective behind this system was to provide transparency and to minimize cases of cheque fraud.

8. Mobile Payments via Parakod App, Turkey

In 2013, Turkish financial Institution Isbank, in partnership with French-based technology company Ingenico launched the Parakod app that allows mobile payments using QR Codes at the point of sale. No need of using credit cards.

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9. SEQR Mobile Payment at McDonald’s, Kuwait

In 2013, McDonald’s in collaboration with Kuwait International Bank ran a pilot with Seamless’ SEQR that allows mobile payments via QR Codes or NFC.

“We are very much looking forward to working with Kuwait International Bank to introduce SEQR in the Kuwaiti market…We now are in a very intense expansion of SEQR internationally and Seamless is already established in countries worldwide. That means we have the experience required for international locations…The launch of SEQR in the Swedish market has been very successful and we hope that our cooperation will help to simplify everyday life for many consumers in Kuwait” – Peter Fredell, President and CEO of Seamless

As per NFC World report, Kuwait International bank is the first financial institution in the Middle East to test the solution.

qr code middle east

10. QR Code on Burger King Packaging to Launch ‘Go Mega’, Kuwait

In 2013, Burger King (Kuwait) used a designer QR Code on Burger King boxes that launched an online game – ‘Go Mega’. Go Mega is a shootout style soccer game that can be played by any mobile device. Players were automatically entered in a contest by making a profile and entering a code on the box.  Top three scorers were offered two tickets to Spain to watch a Spanish Soccer League (LaLiga) match in Barcelona.

qr code middle east

11. Save eGovernment’s Contact Details, Bahrain

Bahrain’s eGovernment has made it easier for their website visitors to save contact details just by scanning a QR Code on the eGovernment Authority portal. The portal is a one-stop shop to facilitate the utilization and access of various government services available electronically.

qr code middle east

As seen from the examples above, both Government institutions and private players have adopted QR Codes for tourism, marketing, and security use cases. These campaigns are likely to create awareness of the technology amongst the population in the region.

Brands too should now consider adding QR Codes to their print media marketing campaigns to engage consumers in the region.


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Shubhi Mall is a big fan of mobile marketing and passionately writes about O2O technology, SEO, and Social Media. When not writing, she is busy either watching rom-com movies or gardening. Shubhi is a Content Writer with Scanova.