x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Mena takes to online commerce

The Middle East and North Africa is the world's fastest growing e-commerce market.

The Middle East and North Africa is the world's fastest growing e-commerce market.

The sector grew year-on-year between 2011 and 2012 from US$10 billion to $15bn, according to a study by Visa.

The report found that internet usage in the region grew by 1,500 per cent in a decade, from 1.2 million users in 2000 to 18.7 million in 2010.

"With a relatively young, technology aware population and a modern telecommunications infrastructure, the Mena region has a powerful opportunity to take a leading position concerning e-commerce regionally, and internationally," said John Andrews, the chairman and chief executive of the International Omni Retailing Members Association.

"This report clearly demonstrates the strong retailing and broader economic opportunities that lay ahead for the Mena region."

The number of broadband-enabled computers in the UAE rose from 23 per cent in 2005 to 73 per cent in 2010, according to Euromonitor, which valued the online retailing industry in the Emirates at $281.6 million last year.

And an increasing number of companies have spotted opportunity in the rapidly expanding space.

Dubai-based Tejuri.com, the region's first online shopping mall, was one of them.

"The region has witnessed a significant increase in internet usage and it comes as no surprise that the internet is quickly becoming the cornerstone for business and communication," said Ayaz Maqbool,the managing director of Tejuri.com.

However, a report by Euromonitor found that the growth of internet retailing in the UAE was constrained by a number of factors towards the end of a review period from 2006 to 2011, with security concerns chief among them.

"Rapid growth also means that both individuals and business organisations will have a natural level of concern about the security of online transactions," said Ihab Ayoub, Visa's general manager for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Visa has been a pioneer in e-commerce and has always strived to make it safe, reliable and convenient. "Through initiatives such as this, Visa is continuing to support and drive the e-commerce industry across the Middle East," he added.