Top e-commerce retailer sets sights on Saudi market

Updated 28 April 2019

Top e-commerce retailer sets sights on Saudi market

  • Mona Ataya has set her sights on Saudi Arabia as Mumzworld’s newest and biggest customer base in the region

DUBAI: As the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan transforms Saudi Arabia, the founder and CEO of a leading e-commerce retailer for mothers and babies in the Middle East says an aggressive expansion in the country will see women and young people at the forefront of its booming business.

Mona Ataya has set her sights on Saudi Arabia as Mumzworld’s newest and biggest customer base in the region. Last October, the specialist firm raised $20 million in its latest funding round to accelerate its expansion in the Kingdom and invest in new technology.

“Mumzworld has established its leadership position in the mother and child e-commerce segment across all the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and Saudi Arabia has always been a very important market for us,” Ataya said. 

“About 18 months ago, we aggressively expanded, setting up infrastructure and teams on the ground and anchoring our leadership in this segment in the Kingdom.

“Mumzworld today offers the largest choicse of products for the Saudi customer, delivered very fast with superior localized offerings.”

The Kingdom was an obvious choice for expansion, she said. “With the current changes in Saudi that are impacting every home — women driving, the entertainment industry exploding, and more licenses for sports outlets such as gyms and fitness centers for women — the entire consumer landscape has shifted in months. This has also come with a big drive to create more opportunities for youth employment, with women firmly in the workplace. Retail space in Saudi Arabia is now almost entirely run by women in positions such as store managers and front-of-line sales.”

Since its launch in 2011, UAE-based Mumzworld has become the leading online marketplace for all things mother, baby and child in the region with more than 250,000 online products.

“Women currently make up 49.7 percent of around 345.5 million people in the Middle East and North Africa region. Birth rates in the GCC are among the highest globally, with per child annual spend estimated to be five times the  European and US mother averages. This is a very impressionable, information-hungry and risk-averse customer who demands the best for her children.

“The market for baby and children’s products in the Arab world is underpinned by a young population and some of the highest birth rates in the world. The region is wealthy and tech-savvy, especially in the key markets of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, with these two ranking among the highest in the world in mobile penetration and social media consumption.”

While e-commerce penetration in the GCC remains below other developed regions, the region is starting to catch up quickly, indicating enormous growth potential, Ataya said. 

“With important initiatives from the Kingdom to facilitate licenses and activate affordable e-commerce enablers, we expect this space in the Kingdom to grow from strength to strength.”

After decades of oil-based economic expansion, entrepreneurship has emerged as the new growth engine for GCC economies, and Ataya is excited to see GCC leaders foster the spirit of entrepreneurship.

“As an entrepreneur I am delighted to see how the youth is hungry for innovation and change, using social media to deliver the message loud and clear to the industry on prices, service quality and range, in addition to the amazing talent that is graduating from the new Saudi Arabia.”

Mumzworld has won more than 200 regional and international awards and is bilingual in Arabic and English, as well as being the only Arabic app in the region dedicated to mothers, she added.

“We are here to create an indispensable online extension of a mother’s life, empowering her to make the most informed decisions for her children. You empower a mother, you empower a child. You empower a child, you change the world. And for that vision, we are leading the way in innovation and disruption from our homegrown region, MENA.”

Saudi Arabia joins club of Middle East’s ‘green energy’ leaders

Updated 20 January 2020

Saudi Arabia joins club of Middle East’s ‘green energy’ leaders

  • Government plans to invest up to $50bn in renewable energy projects by 2023
  • Demand for electricity in the Kingdom is forecast to rise by up to 120 GW by 2030

ABU DHABI: Saudi Arabia has become one of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s leaders in the race to use renewable energy, according to a new study.

The Solar Outlook Report 2020 was launched at the Solar Forum of the World Future Energy Summit, a highlight of this year’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (Jan. 11-18).
The report, prepared by Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA), the largest regional body of its kind, said Saudi Arabia and Oman have joined the UAE, Morocco and Egypt as leaders in the renewables race.
“Saudi Arabia is now in the third year of implementation of its massive target of 60 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy generation by 2030,” it said.
Martine Mamlouk, secretary-general of MESIA, said that investment in solar energy is evident across MENA countries. “Saudi Arabia has a target of almost 60 gigawatts of renewable energy, out of which 40 gigawatts are solar,” she told Arab News.
“This is in line with the Kingdom’s objective of diversification and Vision 2030. While the industry is reaching grid parity, it is great to see the deployment of new innovative technologies to increase efficiency of systems, production management and grids.”
Upcoming solar projects in the Kingdom include Madinah, Rafh, Qurayyat, Al-Faisaliah, Rabigh as well as Jeddah, Mahd Al-Dahab, Al-Rass, SAAD and Wadi Ad-Dawasir, along with Layla and PIF.
Saudi Arabia’s energy demand has been rising steadily, with consumption increasing by 60 percent in the past 10 years, according to data provided by market researchers Frost & Sullivan. Demand for electricity in 2019 reached 62.7 GW and is forecast to rise by up to 120 GW by 2030.
The value of solar-power projects in the MENA region is estimated at between $5 billion and $7.5 billion. By 2024, that figure is expected to approach $15 billion to $20 billion.
Under its Vision 2030 program, the Kingdom aims to reduce its dependency on oil revenues, diversify its energy mix and tap its renewable energy potential.

Saudi Acwa power-generating windmills that have been erected in Jbel Sendouq, on the outskirts of Tangier, Morocco. (Reuters)

After the Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) was set up within the Ministry of Energy, the goals for the Kingdom’s National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) were revised upwards in 2018, resulting in a five-year target of 27.3 GW and a 12-year target of 58.7 GW.
The Saudi government plans to invest up to $50 billion in renewable energy projects by 2023.
“At MESIA, we are excited to see solar developments in the MENA region accelerating and reaching attractive tariffs, while lowering the carbon footprint of regional economies,” Mamlouk said.
“The total investment in renewables in MENA between 2019 and 2023 is expected to be $71.4 billion, representing a 34 percent share of the total investment in the power sector, which is valued at $210 billion.”
Changes introduced by Saudi Arabia include a focus on local developers and easing of regulations for local manufacturers of solar panels.
A Local Content and Government Procurement Authority has been established to oversee and audit local content compliance.
Separately, a Renewable Energy Financing package has been launched by the Saudi Industrial Development Fund to support the growth of utility and distributed-generation sectors.
After solar photovoltaic panels were installed on the roof of a mosque in Riyadh, the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center recommended a similar move at other mosques.
Meanwhile, plans for the use of solar panels in the Saudi agro-industry have led to burgeoning interest in the technology, with several industrial facilities expected to have their own units in the not-too-distant future.
For good measure, a regulatory framework to allow exchanges with the power grid is being studied by the Electricity Co-generation Regulatory Authority.
Flexible storage solutions, such as hydrogen, will give intermittent renewable energy a greater share in the energy system, Mamlouk said.

“It may enable present-day oil and gas exporters to become key renewable energy exporters tomorrow. The solar industry is thrilled and proud to participate in this profound transformation of Saudi Arabia’s energy system.”
In the past year solar tariffs have fallen to record low levels in the MENA region, mainly due to tremendous cost declines that have brought the goal of grid parity within reach.
With installed solar electricity capacity worldwide standing at 617.9 GW, MENA governments are staying focused on energy diversification with the help of large-scale projects.
In the UAE, Dubai is targeting the completion of a 5 GW facility by 2030 at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Solar Park. Abu Dhabi has “engaged” its second-largest solar project and is considering the roll-out of more units by 2025.


62.7GW - Demand for electricity in Saudi Arabia in 2019

Morocco aims to reach 52 percent contribution by renewables in its energy mix by 2030. The figures for Tunisia and Egypt are 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively, by 2022.
Oman expects solar-power plants totaling 1.5 GW to come on stream by the end of 2022. Even Iraq, with all its political troubles and administrative paralysis, has not ignored solar power in drawing up plans for its future energy mix.
“Investments in renewable energy have reached billions in all Arab countries,” Mohammed Al-Taani, secretary-general of the Arab Renewable Energy Commission, said.
“Jordan is spending more on renewable energy, and we encourage people to have more independence with renewables by generating their own electricity to reduce their bills.”

Nevertheless, challenges remain when it comes to implementing projects in rural and isolated areas, according to Mustapha Taoumi, a technology expert at the EU-GCC Clean Energy Technology Network.

“With regard to issues of power grid and access to the people, we have to prepare for everything and be ready to receive new technology because there are communities with little income and education,” he said.
“Then there is the challenge of implementation on the part of different actors and sectors. Social acceptance is also important as we come with new technologies and (information on) how to use them.
“We have to be innovative when it comes to financing the facilitation process. We have to be fair and democratic,” he said.
Although this is an exciting time for the region, governments will have to step up their efforts since they are still subsidizing the cost of power, Taoumi said.
“Technologies are evolving quickly, so decision-making must keep pace,” he said. “We could end up having smart meters in rural and isolated areas in two to three years.”