Electronic trading the new normal in Saudi Arabia

The number of e-commerce users in Saudi Arabia reached 12.5 million by 2017. (Shutterstock)
Updated 05 November 2018
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Electronic trading the new normal in Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Arabia promotes e-commerce for small traders
  • Maroof business-registered users have  increased to 20,000

RIYADH: The number of online stores registered on Maroof has increased to 20,000 in 15 diversified activities, according to a Ministry of Commerce and Investment 2018 third quarter report.  

The Maroof platform is an initiative that began in April 2016 to support e-commerce in the Kingdom under the supervision of the Ministry of Commerce with the cooperation of Thiqah Business Services as a developer and operator. 

The platform is to ease concerns about payment protection and authenticity of products while shopping online. All brands listed on Maroof comply with Saudi trading rules and regulations, and electronic store sellers are accredited. 

The platform also helps to enhance the quality of e-store services through customer feedback and evaluation, and electronic store owners find that Maroof's free service provides a better opportunity for attracting traffic and sales. 

The top-rated electronic shop on Maroof Nicenesa.com, led by CEO Omar Al-Olayan, answered the question: How did enlisting in Maroof platform influence the growth of your e-shop?

“Gaining the trust of clients in purchasing original products is an essential and valuable factor that the Maroof platform provides us with,” Al-Olayan said. “The initial probability of customers’ purchase before Maroof was 30 percent, and after the addition of Maroof credibility, the rate ratio increased up to 80 percent.” 

Given the increases in the number of registered businesses, it reflects the confidence of both seller and buyers in governmental services such as the Maroof platform to differentiate credible sellers from not-credible ones. This helps to create a healthy business environment that encourages small e-shops growth to achieve the Vision 2030 objective of reaching 35 percent of SME participation in GDP. 

If Maroof continues its implementation of Ministry of Comerce and Investment regulations that protects consumers’ rights, it will encourage the rise of new startups, and escalate the growth of small electronic businesses in Saudi Arabia.

E-commerce has become an integral part of daily life, and according to a report by the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), Saudi Arabia’s business-to-consumer e-commerce spending was estimated at SR29.7 billion ($7.9 billion) in 2016, making the country one of the largest e-commerce markets in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region. 

Forbes Middle East reported that the number of e-commerce users in Saudi Arabia had reached 12.5 million by 2017, and the number is expected to increase to about 12.4 percent by 2020.

In spite of the challenges that face any online store — such as logistics management — Saudis are ready to engage in e-commerce as it has much growth potential, especially with new IT infrastructure that enables the escalation of small businesses through growing organic traffic and selling their products in the MENA region. 

The initiative of governing e-shops through Maroof will result in a sustainable business economy, which is parallel to another goal of 2030 Vision — of promoting local content and creating a vibrant startup e-commerce ecosystem that encourages the creation of new business models and local opportunities such as SMEs and home-based sellers. 


Makkah Route: Health services presented to Hajjis in their home countries

Updated 21 July 2019
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Makkah Route: Health services presented to Hajjis in their home countries

  • 257,981 pilgrims benefited from the "preventive services" since the new initiative’s launch

RIYADH: One of the services provided by the Makkah Route initiative, which aims to smooth the Hajj journey of pilgrims and provide top-quality service, is to ensure that all health requirements are met.

The Communication, Relations and Health Awareness General Department of the Ministry of Health is implementing the initiative in two ways. 

The first is to ensure that the proper application of the health requirements for Hajj and Umrah is followed in targeted countries before issuing the Kingdom’s entry visa (Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Tunisia). 

The second is to check that preventive measures are taken according to the world’s epidemiological situation, for instance in Pakistan.

“Preventive measures” mean, for example, providing polio vaccines for pilgrims. The vaccine, approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), is provided through the Pakistani health authorities at the departure area of the airport.

“The ministry is also deploying a team of five people qualified to supervise the application of health requirements and assess the vaccination procedure and the application of preventive measures,” the department added.   


HIGHLIGHTS

The Makkah Route initiative aims to ensure that the proper application of the health requirements for Hajj and Umrah is followed in targeted countries before issuing the Kingdom’s entry visa.

The initiative also ensures that preventive measures are taken according to the world’s epidemiological situation, for instance in Pakistan.

The workforce at the different land, air, and sea entry/exit points during this year’s Hajj season numbers more than 1,700 individuals.

The teams include 131 experienced doctors, general health specialists, epidemiological monitors, and other staff to provide the necessary treatment and preventive services to pilgrims.


The ministry’s procedures in the departure hall include prepping emergency clinics at the points where Makkah Route pilgrims are received. 

These clinics deal with urgent cases, prepare awareness information for pilgrims and coordinate with the General Authority of Civil Aviation regarding their distribution on the targeted airlines.

The workforce at the different land, air, and sea entry/exit points during this year’s Hajj season numbers more than 1,700 individuals, including 131 experienced doctors, general health specialists, epidemiological monitors, and other staff to provide the necessary treatment and preventive services to pilgrims.

The ministry stated that the number of health practitioners assigned to the service of pilgrims during Hajj “is more than 30,000.”

The ministry encourages volunteering during the Hajj season; it believes that it is a very important and noble service toward fellow citizens, nations and the religion, where Islam highly encourages volunteering and serving others.

The ministry is coordinating the major institutions and commissions via its Hajj volunteering link to register volunteers so that they can participate through the societal partnership program.

The missions affiliated with the pilgrim’s affairs offices provide basic treatment services and refer patients to the ministry’s health facilities, keeping an eye on the overall health situation and reporting any suspicious infectious diseases. 

The ministry monitors all the health institutions and medical missions affiliated with the pilgrim’s affairs offices to make sure the health requirements are being properly applied, to ensure pilgrims’ safety and guarantee an environment free of infectious diseases.

The Health Ministry has confirmed that so far that there has been no incidence of any epidemic diseases or quarantine cases recorded among pilgrims, who arrived and the health situation is reassuring.

Since the first of Dul Qaada, the ministry has provided preventive services, via access points, to 257,981 pilgrims, with a total rate of commitment to vaccination reached  87.4 percent for meningitis, 67.3 percent for yellow fever and 95.3 percent for polio.