The United Arab Emirates has no shortage of luxury shopping, but that’s not stopping Amazon from infiltrating the Middle East’s retail scene.
It’s hard to believe the Seattle-based company is just now entering this market, nearly two years after acquiring the Dubai-based e-commerce platform Souq (translates to “market”). Now that Amazon has rebranded the site that it paid $580 million for, it’s officially ready to make its mark on the Gulf region and beyond.
“The thousands of businesses who were selling on Souq are now selling on Amazon.ae. UAE businesses of all sizes can sell their products on Amazon.ae,” the company said in an announcement.
The company’s first Arabic language shopping site, which began operating in the UAE as Amazon.ae today, will offer Amazon-fulfilled shipments on thousands of items to all seven emirates. Meanwhile, Souq will continue to take orders from neighboring markets Saudi Arabia and Egypt through separate dedicated websites.
The debut comes at a time when the Middle East is experiencing a major Silicon Valley-inspired tech boom. Aside from launching in a market known for its affinity for desert-surrounded high-end malls, Amazon’s global business hasn’t been doing too hot.
Despite its overwhelming monopoly domestically, Amazon is still having trouble going toe-to-toe with large delivery platforms abroad, namely in China and India. This week showed the company’s international sales were only up nine percent during the first quarter of 2019, compared with 19 percent in the previous quarter.
In China, for example, Alibaba and JD.com have been successful at essentially shutting Amazon out, forcing it to shut down its marketplace there. Amazon hasn’t fared much better in India, where the government has laws favoring domestic e-commerce companies, in turn keeping the likes of Walmart and Amazon out.
With its Middle East launch, Amazon’s strategy of tapping into new markets to grow its international presence is apparent. With Souq already being the biggest online retailer in the region, the company stands to continue scaling its revenue in one of the world’s largest markets.