Saudi online retail market heats up with Noon.com launch

Updated 13 December 2017
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Saudi online retail market heats up with Noon.com launch

LONDON: The online “Arabic-first” shopping platform Noon.com has launched in Saudi Arabia, aiming to carve out a share in what is still a relatively nascent market for e-commerce.
Noon is a joint venture between Emaar Properties chairman Mohamed Alabbar, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and the Kuwaiti franchise operator MH Alshaya. It initially launched in the UAE in October. The Saudi market offers significant growth potential to online retailers, analysts say, given the low proportion of the population who regularly shop on the internet rather than in the Kingdom’s shopping malls.
“KSA is a key market for online retail,” said Euromonitor analyst Rabia Yasmeen, adding that the online share of the total Saudi retail market is around 1.4 percent.
Norma Taki, head of retail at PwC Middle East, added: “Our 2017 Total Retail survey results show that 27 percent of shoppers in KSA like to shop online monthly versus 45 percent who shop only a few times a year.
“This highlights that there is a huge opportunity for market entrants such as Noon.com to come in and capitalize on the young population and the tech-savvy end consumer the KSA market has to offer.”
Noon went live at midday on Dec. 12. It is headquartered in Riyadh and offers products across a wide range of sectors including beauty, fashion, electronics, home and kitchen and groceries. Shoppers can make purchases online or via a downloadable app.
“Noon brings a dynamic, locally-driven and customer-oriented digital marketplace to the Kingdom serving the community and offering a new retail and much-improved experience,” said the founder of Noon, Mohamed Alabbar.
“With talented young Saudis driving its operations, along with being powered by Saudi and regional retailers showcasing their amazing products, the platform also offers Saudi entrepreneurs, including startups, to be part of a fast-growing digital ecosystem.”
Noon will be a competitor to Souq.com, which was acquired by global online giant Amazon in March. Souq already operates in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Egypt.
This month Souq launched Amazon Global Store, which allows customers in the UAE to purchase products from the US-based Amazon.
The Middle East is set to be one of the fastest-growing regions globally for e-commerce, according to BMI Research. It predicted sales to double to at least $48.8 billion by 2021, in a research note published in September.
This growth is partly due to the high proportion of young consumers, BMI said, with all the Middle Eastern countries it ranks having more than 30 percent of its population aged between 20 and 39 years old.
The UAE still dominates the regional online market, it said, with and sales in the UAE will reach $9.7 billion in 2017, rising to $23.3 billion by 2021.


Saudi Arabia’s King Salman says Kingdom is committed to serving Muslims

Updated 30 min 33 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman says Kingdom is committed to serving Muslims

  • Prince Khaled Al-Faisal gave a speech during the opening on the World Conference on Islamic Unity
  • Prince Khaled welcomed the participants at the conference and has delivered to them the greeting of the king

MAKKAH: Rejecting all forms of hatred and extremism, Muslim scholars from 127 countries have proposed to initiate an intercultural partnership to effectively fight Islamophobia.

More than 1,299 religious scholars and intellectuals took part in a conference titled “International Conference on Islamic unity — the perils of labeling and exclusion” held in Makkah on Wednesday.

Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal inaugurated the event organized by the Muslim World League (MWL). 

The participants of the conference called for a comprehensive plan to address sectarianism and extremism.

They also stressed the need for creating effective channels of communication between followers of different Islamic schools of thought to remove misunderstandings and increase cooperation.

They unanimously rejected sectarian views and extremist ideas and urged scholars and preachers to play their role in uniting Muslims.

The Makkah governor delivered a speech on behalf of King Salman underlining the need to remove misconceptions about Islam and Muslims through dialogue. He also urged Muslims to set aside their petty differences and to work together to achieve a great and prosperous future.

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, who is also head of the MWL Supreme Council, highlighted the teachings of Islam that categorically reject all forms of discrimination. 

The grand mufti urged the Muslims to forge unity among their ranks and do away with rivalries, petty differences and say no to divisions and factionalism. 

Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah, president of the Emirates Fatwa Council, stressed that unity is a great Islamic concept that includes all spheres of human existence and covers all individual, collective and international relations. Islam is a religion of unity, he added

Sheikh Bayyah said the difference of opinion should not be construed as enmity. 

He deplored the spirit of exclusion and rejecting and mistrusting others. He said a moderate approach is necessary to counter extremism and hatred. 

MWL Secretary-General Sheikh Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa said the problems we are witnessing in today’s world emanate from a lack of open dialogue and futile rivalries between sects and denominations.

The secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, hailed Saudi Arabia’s successful experience against extremism, violence and terrorism. He said the steps Saudi Arabia has taken to counter this negative trend have transformed it into a reliable reference for everything related to Islam. 

He praised the efforts, bold steps and resolute policies carried out by the Kingdom to eradicate extremist ideas from society.