E-commerce in the Middle East: Virtual gold rush

Regional online shoppers are shifting their business to indigenous suppliers

Tags: E-commerceUnited Arab Emirates
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E-commerce in the Middle East: Virtual gold rush The value of e-commerce-related transactions is about $11bn a year in the Middle East.
By  Massoud A Derhally Published  October 7, 2012

Mekki declined to provide revenue figures for Namshi, however Toukan says Souq.com has recorded double-digit growth in the last six months in terms of the number of transactions carried out and revenue generated.

"Every month we're growing at double digits from the month before," Toukan says. "Dubai is big. Saudi is growing, things are moving in Egypt, Kuwait is interesting. Souq.com is a huge growth story in the region and I think will be one of the biggest internet companies in the area. Souq.com is big but it's the beginning of e-commerce in the region," he said.

Jabbar's other companies include Sukar.com, Cobone.com, Run2sport.com, Cashu.com, Ikoo.com, Tahadi.com and Nibras.com.

An investment or acquisition in Jabbar or its subsidiaries would be a further boon for e-commerce and start-ups in the region after two ventures, LivingSocial and Mizado, closed down in the last two months.

The investment in Namshi is "very good news to the industry - it shows that international players are willing to invest and it helps although Namshi is a competitor of ours," Toukan says. "E-commerce is happening now in the Middle East, its being conquered, a lot of investment is being put into it. It's happening, investors see the opportunity and it's the beginning of it."

Ghandour who is stepping down as CEO of Aramex at the end of this year to focus on entrepreneurship agrees.

"As an angel investor and as the CEO of Aramex, a company that does a lot of services for the e-commerce industry, I can tell you the industry is growing substantially, and is one of the last few unconquered markets," Ghandour says. "This is our biggest-growing business in the express business today. The express business in the Arab world would be growing in single digits and because of e-commerce its growing double digits now," he says.

The investment in Namshi is, he adds, "a vote of confidence, big time."

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