Mobile computing and application development represent attractive careers for students in the UAE due to the increasing penetration of smartphones both locally and globally, experts have said.
Recent figures from the International Telecommunication Union estimated by the end of 2011 the world had six billion mobile subscriptions, equivalent to 87 per cent of the global population.
The Arab world accounts for 349 million of those and the UAE has nearly 11.9 million, according to figures released by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) in January 2012.
In July 2011 the TRA recorded the UAE's total mobile subscriptions as 11.1 million. This growth represents an opportunity.
"Mobile computing and mobile application development are very much a viable career option for students in the UAE," said Professor Zakaria Maamar from the faculty of IT at Zayed University (ZU).
"Just look at the growth in subscriptions and device sales as well as options organisations have to offer online services."
Maamar spoke to Gulf News after the recent second annual Middle East Summit on Mobile Computing held at the ZU campus in Dubai in conjunction with BlackBerry maker Research in Motion.
He predicted instant internet access would continue the growing need to develop smartphones and tablets, along with applications, for UAE residents to access eGovernment services on the go for example, or for universities to offer improved online services to students.
The arrival of smartphones and tablets has not only revolutionised computing but created opportunities for start ups that never previously existed. This could be a reason why mobile computing courses at institutions like ZU are increasing in popularity.
"We have a core course called mobile computing we started running on the Dubai campus last fall and it is a very popular course," he said. "The possibilities for application development are unlimited."
Last year more than 23 billion mobile applications were downloaded globally and this is expected to increase by 38 per cent to over 32 billion this year.
Figures show by the end of 2011 the developing world held 76 per cent of global mobile subscriptions.