Saudi e-commerce valued at SR15bn annually

Updated 30 August 2013

Saudi e-commerce valued at SR15bn annually

Economists confirm that e-commerce in Saudi Arabia is experiencing a high growth, estimating its value at SR15 billion per year. The size of the market is expected to increase at high rates in the coming years due to the eradication of trading obstacles, creating an ideal solution for buying low priced items and with minimal effort.
The Kingdom is progressing the fastest among all the Arab countries in the field of e-commerce as witnessed by the significant expansion in this area during the past two years, according to sources. The progress is due to the support of development in communications technology, and has allowed the acquiring of various goods at lower prices compared to what exists in the market.
However, a number of risks and challenges are associated with shopping online, namely the possibility of the leakage credit card information abroad, the incompatibility of expectations and the product received, and the new nature of this type of shopping. Also, some challenges emerge as a large number of shoppers, especially women and girls, must adjust their desire to preview the goods themselves before purchasing them. The high price of Internet connections in the Kingdom, as compared to the other developed countries, is also a problem.
Fadl bin Saad Al-Buainain, an economic expert, estimated the volume of e-Commerce trade in Saudi Arabia to be more than SR15 billion annually, adding that the Kingdom is advancing with all Arab countries in this area, and ranks first among Arab countries in terms of e-procurement practices.
Albuainain indicated that e-commerce in Saudi Arabia has witnessed significant growth over the past two years as a result of support in the development of technology and of direct communications with global retailers. Such expansions, he confirmed, will allow for the purchase of international brands, mostly apparel and electronic devices. Price is the main factor and that is motivating citizens toward e-procurement instead of buying locally.
Regarding the risks associated with shopping online, these risks are reduced when dealing with the known international companies, he said.
Abdul Rahman Al-Soniaa said that online shopping during Eid Al-Fitr saw an increase in sales volume exceeding SR300 million. According to Al-Soniaa, e-Commerce faces three hurdles — the novelty of this type of trade and the difficultly in building the trust of the shopper in a short period of time, the fear and apprehension toward e-procurement, especially with regard to credit card usage, and the adjustment from being able to preview goods in person prior to purchase.
The goods offered online do not compete with local markets in terms of the number of options offered, whether clothes, shoes, perfume or other goods, he added.
As an expert in the field of e-commerce, Mohammed Al-Sheheri, stated that the reasons behind delaying the growth of e-Commerce in Saudi Arabia is the higher prices of Internet connections, which are still too high and expensive compared to prices in developed countries.
“The cost of providing fiber optic service to homes in the Kingdom is double the cost in a country like the United States of America,” he said, adding that Internet prices in Saudi Arabia should decrease at a very fast rate. He also stressed the importance of issuing laws and regulations to protect both the seller and customers on the Internet, which could resemble similar laws in other countries with slight modifications to fit the Saudi market.

More than 100 Saudi groups at Dubai’s GITEX week

Updated 22 September 2019

More than 100 Saudi groups at Dubai’s GITEX week

  • GITEX is an international platform

DUBAI: More than 100 Saudi organizations, including government entities, private companies and startups, are participating at the upcoming GITEX Technology Week in Dubai, from Oct. 6 to 10, indicating an increase in Saudi participation from last year at the annual technology gathering.

Bringing in one of the biggest contingents at the event, at 114, Saudi Arabia is also an official partner of GITEX this year, which is expecting to host more than 100,000 visitors over four days at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).

“There’s a lot of collaboration and integration in this region — there’s a lot of learning and sharing. GITEX is an international platform. This is where the Saudi contingent comes — from the big enterprise sector to the startup ecosystem — to interact with hundreds and thousands of visitors from over 140 countries,” Trixie LohMirmand, senior vice president of events management at DWTC, told reporters on Sunday.

LohMirmand also noted a spike in Saudi participation at the GITEX Future Stars, a concurrent event that focuses on the region’s startup community.

“We have a big Saudi Innovation Day. In fact, Saudis are again bringing a big contingent of startups. It’s led by the deputy minister of communications from Saudi Arabia to explore partnerships and discuss the opportunities in the region, particularly for startups,” she said, referring to the three special sessions that will focus on the Kingdom’s technology drive.

This increase in participation, LohMirmand said, is a reflection of a bigger “impetus on innovation and the getting the startup community going” in the region.

“We see a lot of new tech coming out, so there’s a lot of interest to give these companies an opportunity to connect to the rest of the world. When you come to GITEX, we connect you to the rest of the world — we host over 500 investors from all around the world, including from Silicon Valley,” she added.

Firat Aktas, DWTC’s director of brand innovation and communication, stressed: “You can see what’s happening around the world — the Saudis are showing their ambition very clearly in various industries.”

Earlier this year, the Saudi Telecom Company signed a deal with Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson to launch commercial 5G services in the Kingdom. “The roll-out continues. It’s a huge deployment in different parts of Saudi Arabia,” Wojciech Bajda, head of Gulf Council countries and global customer unit zain, told Arab News. “The focus for our customers currently is to understand how to monetize 5G, how to make sure there’s an industrial application of 5G in Saudi Arabia.”

Bajda also said they are looking at introducing 5G to different sectors in the Kingdom such as mining, and oil and gas. “We have engagements with different industries in trying to prototype together, and see if there’s something relevant for Saudi Arabia, and for our customers like the Saudi Telecom Company to pick up and do a full implementation,” he added. 

What to expect at GITEX this year 

This year’s GITEX, which has the theme “Synergizing the Mind and Technology Economy,” will highlight the region’s 5G adoption, as well as other futuristic concepts such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and immersive technology.

LohMirmand said the dwelling time for GITEX visitors has increased over the years, owing to the gathering’s massive content offering.

“We are measuring more in terms of dwelling time. You can have 100,000 people come one day and do, but now the trend for us is we’re seeing them staying longer. Because there’s so much content, there’s so much knowledge, and so many companies with new technology, dwelling time is much longer, averaging 3.5 to 4 days,” she explained.

“Visitors and exhibitors are having deeper and more meaningful interactions at the show.”

The halls of DWTC will be divided into six sectors: 5G, AI, Future mobility, GITEX lifestyle tech, and Smart cities. It opens Oct. 6.