Online shopping still in its infancy in KSA

Updated 30 January 2016
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Online shopping still in its infancy in KSA

DAMMAM: About 5 percent of Saudis shop online, and online marketplaces occupy 25 to 30 percent of the total market, according to recent statistics.
Online shopping has a number of risks relating to poor credibility, fraud and delivery delay by some companies and websites. This is true because of the absence of legislation and laws that organize cyberspace and can punish those trying to abuse this way of shopping.
Experts confirm that there are no laws in the Kingdom to protect e-shoppers. They call on the Ministry of Commerce to enact strict procedures to protect them, especially with regard to payment on foreign shopping sites, and identifying specialized companies, not banks, to supervise the payment process.
Recently, 26 accounts on social networks were closed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s teams responsible of combating counterfeiting and commercial fraud. Those accounts published about 20,000 ads for counterfeit and fake products.
The ministry called on consumers to avoid dealing with those unauthorized websites, and confirmed its follow-up on the distributors of counterfeit and fake goods to prevent their marketing through social networks. It stressed that there is no hesitation in the application of statutory procedures for offenders and those involved in the fraud and counterfeiting, and anything that puts the health and safety of consumers at risk.
Naif Al-Sharif, associate professor of commercial law at the Faculty of Law at King Abdulaziz University, said: “There is no law to regulate the means of e-commerce, as the existing law is just a draft.” He said that the goal of e-commerce law in general was to strengthen confidence in the authenticity and integrity of e-commerce transactions, provide the necessary legal protection for consumers, as well as supporting and developing e-commerce.
He said that the draft obliges the e-seller to disclose important information to the consumer, including the merchant’s name or trade name, the means of communication, proof that the seller is registered on the website and confirming that the e-seller is obliged to present the consumer with a bill containing the price and date.
Abdullah Al-Maghlouth, a member of the Saudi Economic Association, said: “E-marketing is a rapid method for purchasing goods, but the Chambers of Commerce should organize workshops and educational seminars to increase awareness for those interested in this kind of shopping.” He noted that e-commerce is spreading around the world and includes all kinds of products and services.


Enigmatic traveler who revealed full majesty of Makkah to the world

Pilgrims camp in Arafat during Hajj in this rare old picture. (Supplied)
Updated 3 min 40 sec ago
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Enigmatic traveler who revealed full majesty of Makkah to the world

  • The next day he and his companions wore Ihram garments and walked along winding roads until they reached Makkah
  • The vessel floundered and sank, forcing Al-Abbasi and his men to flee in a lifeboat and row for hours before reaching the safety of a Red Sea island

JEDDAH: Ali Bey Al-Abbasi was not the first European enamored with the Arab Peninsula and the mysteries of Makkah. Nor was he the first Westerner to visit the city — but he was an unusually resourceful man, with wealth of unknown origin and a great thirst for discovery, who provided Westerners with the first comprehensive account of the city.
He was born Domingo Francisco Jorge Badía y Leblich in Barcelona in 1767. After receiving a liberal education, he focused on astronomy, medicine and mineral science. He also developed an interest in learning Arabic.
“Al-Abbasi was an agent of the king of Spain or of Napoleon,” says August Raleigh, author of the book “Makkah in the Eyes of a Christian Pilgrim.”
In 1801, Al-Abbasi set off for Paris and London, returning to Spain two years later wearing Islamic clothing. Later, he formed a close friendship with the sultan of Morocco who, with growing affection, advised the Spaniard to find a wife, to which Al-Abbasi replied that he had made a pledge not to marry before visiting Makkah. The sultan tried to discourage Al-Abbasi from making the trip but when he could not, and saw the determination of his friend, he presented him with a beautiful, extravagant tent as a gift.
On the third day of Shawwal, 1806, Al-Abbasi joined a convoy heading to Makkah, taking with him 14 camels and two horses. He boarded a ship from Suez but fate, and the weather, were not on his side. The vessel floundered and sank, forcing Al-Abbasi and his men to flee in a lifeboat and row for hours before reaching the safety of a Red Sea island. From there, they were rescued and taken to Jeddah.
On the 12th day of Dul Qaada, Al-Abbasi had to be carried on a stretcher because he had a fever that weakened him and damaged his bones. The next day he and his companions wore Ihram garments and walked along winding roads until they reached Makkah.
Al-Abbasi entered the city and when he reached the courtyard of the mosque, a guide gestured for him to stop. He pointed to the Kaaba and said: “Look. Look at the house of God.”
The Spaniard was deeply affected by the reverence of his experience. He wrote: “The house of God is covered with a black robe from above to be draped, surrounded by a ring of lamps, the unaccustomed hour and the stillness of the night; and our guide, who was speaking before us as if he were inspired, all these images formed an amazing image that will not be erased from my memory.”
He remained in the city, living among noblemen and aristocrats. The governor of Makkah even asked him to help clean the Kaaba. Describing one of the many incredible sights that he witnessed, during a year when the number of pilgrims was 83,000, Al-Abbasi wrote: “Only in Arafat can one get an idea of the majestic scene of pilgrimage. There are countless people from all nations and colors from every corner of the world. Despite the thousands of countless dangers and obstacles that they had to overcome, all of them worship one God. Everyone counts themselves as members of one family. There is no intermediary between man and his Lord; everyone is equal before their creator.”
Al-Abbasi, who later wrote of his experiences, was the first European to present to the world a detailed account of Makkah, unlike the fragmented notes of earlier travelers such as Ludovico di Varthema and Joseph Bates. He went so far as to include a precise location, determined through astronomical observation, and recreated a map of the Grand Mosque.
Al-Abbasi continued to travel, visiting many countries before he died of dysentery in 1818, in Aleppo, Syria. He was buried in Balqa, near Amman, the capital of Jordan.