Instagram Reels expanding to more markets in Middle East region

Egypt was the first country in the MENA region to access Instagram Reels, and Instagram is expanding it to more countries. The announcement came at the House of Instagram virtual event on 15th March 2021, months aftter its global launch back in August 2020.

Make within the app

Following the rollout of Music across the MENA region, Instagram is looking to capitalize on the momentum. Users have definitely asked for when Reels would expand to the region, and their wishes have come true.

It’s easy to access it from the main Instagram app. Users just have to swipe to the Instagram camera and then the Reels option shows between Story and Live. Your Reels can be 15s or 30s in length, and allows you to use video from your smartphone’s camera roll.

The feature itself give you access to a host of editing features:

  • Audio: Find specific songs in the Instagram music library or use original audio by recording a video with it. When the video is shared on Reels, the new original audio will be attributed to the user. If a user uses their own original music on a public account, that can then be used by other people when they select the “Use Audio” option. Users in the Middle East will even start seeing Middle EAstern music recommendations.
  • AR Effects: This leverages the Spark AR ecosystem that works on both Facebook and Instagram, letting you use any effects when filming
  • Timer and Countdown: Record your videos hands-free by setting a countdown timer via Reels.
  • Align: You can line up objects from previous clips before recording the next to help create seamless transitions.
  • Speed: Speed up or slow down selected parts of the video or audio.
  • Touch-Up: Users can smooth out videos.

Reels in focus

You’ll see the Reels tab in the center of the app’s navigation bar on both the iOS and Android app. If you have a Public account, your Reels will be discovered by other users in the Reels tab.

Where did the “+” icon go? It has now moved to the top right near the Messages icon.

Whenever you publish a Reel, you can easily customize the cover image, add captions and hashtags (for those who them to drive more discoverability for their content). It’ll show up on the Reels tab on your account and with the account’s followers. You can also share them on your Story and send it as a Direct Message.

I got to use Reels around the time of the global launch but then lost the create functionality (proof is when you visit my Instagram account on the mobile app, and see the four Reels I was able to create around the launch time).

After waiting months, it’s time to see how far the feature has come. If you live in the following countries, it’ll show up once you refresh the app:

  • UAE
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Qatar
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Bahrain
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Tunisia
  • Algeria
  • Morocco

Make sure you’ve updated the Instagram app to the latest version to start using it.

Author: Yasser Masood

Think of me as a grassroots community evangelist. Juggling social media while covering technology/digital trends across the Middle East and crossroads of society and culture, while unearthing other perspectives that pique my interests.

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