Panel: Saudi Arabia is booming in terms of e-commerce

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Retail Leaders Circle is an international platform for expert-led debate between CEOs, industry innovators and influencers with the power to shape the future of retail. (Supplied)
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Retail Leaders Circle is an international platform for expert-led debate between CEOs, industry innovators and influencers with the power to shape the future of retail. (Supplied)
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Retail Leaders Circle is an international platform for expert-led debate between CEOs, industry innovators and influencers with the power to shape the future of retail. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 February 2020

Panel: Saudi Arabia is booming in terms of e-commerce

  • The summit aims to examine the strengths of the retail industry and economic growth opportunities within the sector

RIYADH: With the modernization of retail underway, e-commerce is booming in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with Saudi Arabia emerging as its top performing country.

Speaking at a session titled “The State of MENA Retail” on the opening day of the Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit 2020 in Riyadh on Monday, Cyrille Fabre, partner at Bain & Company, said: “In MENA, the e-commerce market grew 29 percent from approximately $8.5 billion in 2017 to $14.3 billion in 2019.

“Saudi Arabia is booming in terms of e-commerce and is the number one market in the region in terms of growth and size,” he added.

Saudi Minister of Commerce and Investment Majed bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi said: “E-commerce in the Kingdom has grown significantly; We have more than SR80 billion ($21.3 billion) in services and products and 45,000 shops and e-commerce platforms.”

Welcoming leading business-people to the opening session of the summit being held for the first time in the Kingdom, he added: “As we begin to focus on the Kingdom’s value proposition, we have a unique blend of opportunities that make Saudi Arabia a destination for investment.”

Speaking on e-commerce outlook Ahmed Al-Hakbani, governor of Saudi Customs said: “In the 2020 Doing Business report from the World Bank, Saudi Arabia jumped 72 global positions in one year in the (Trading Across Borders) measure.

“We want to expedite e-commerce. When it comes to e-commerce, we are putting much more emphasis on customer service and ensuring online retailers uphold the standards of the traditional retail sector.”

Arab News’ regional correspondent, Rawan Radwan, moderated a session on “Retail as a Job Creation Engine” where Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) Deputy Gov. Ibrahim Al-Suwail talked about foreign investment, and Faisal Alshaya, general manager of the Alshaya Group, and Faraz Khalid, CEO of Noon, the Middle East’s homegrown online marketplace, talked about providing training to young Saudis.   

“The Kingdom has been working across government agencies to re-engineer the licensing processes and reduce requirements and we are seeing positive implications for the ease of doing business,” said Al-Suwail.

Speaking to Arab News, Rayan B. Zahid, CEO of Microsoft Arabia said: “It's a remarkable day where we see the first such event on retail, especially in a market that is so promising. The opportunity is huge in Saudi Arabia under Vision 2030’s plan to diversify income. We look at this at Microsoft as a great opportunity that will help this industry to evolve in the Kingdom."

Abdellah Iftahy,  a partner at McKinsey & Company told Arab News: “I think this retail summit happening in Saudi Arabia is a big sign of the importance of retail in the Kingdom.”              

Citing a survey by McKinsey on Saudi consumers, he said: “Half of them think that the economy will be positive this year. Last year it was 40 percent, that’s now up 10 percent.”  

Organized under the patronage of the minister of Commerce and Investment, in partnership with Invest Saudi, local, regional and international leaders convened in Riyadh for this two-day summit to examine the strengths of the retail industry and economic growth opportunities within the sector.

Retail Leaders Circle is an international platform for expert-led debate between CEOs, industry innovators and influencers with the power to shape the future of retail.


Saudi minister: OPEC+ will take responsible approach to virus

Updated 42 min 46 sec ago

Saudi minister: OPEC+ will take responsible approach to virus

  • Saudi Arabia supports the further oil production cut, but Russia is yet to announce its final position on the matter

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said on Tuesday he was confident that OPEC and its partner oil-producing nations, the so-called OPEC+ group, would respond responsibly to the spread of the coronavirus.

He also said Saudi Arabia and Russia would continue to engage regarding oil policy.

“Everything serious requires being attended to,” the minister, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, told reporters at an industry conference in Riyadh.

An OPEC+ committee this month recommended the group deepen its output cuts by an additional 600,000 barrels per day.

Saudi Arabia supports the further oil production cut, but Russia is yet to announce its final position on the matter.

The minister said he was still talking with Moscow and that he was confident of Riyadh’s partnership with the rest of the OPEC+ group.

“We did not run out of ideas, we have not closed our phones. There is always a good way of communicating through conference calls,” he said.

Regarding the coronavirus, which has impacted OPEC member Iran, he said OPEC+ members should not be complacent about the virus but added he was confident every OPEC+ member was a responsible and responsive producer.

The flu-like SARS-CoV-2 virus, which first broke out in China, has now spread to more than 20 countries.

“Of course there is an impact and we are assessing, but we’ll do whatever we can in our next meeting and we’ll address that issue,” UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei said at the same industry conference.

Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser on Monday said he expected a short-lived impact on oil demand.

“We think this is short term and I am confident that in the second half of the year there is going to be an improvement on the demand side, especially from China,” he said.

Oil climbed on Tuesday as investors sought bargains after crude benchmarks slumped almost 4 percent in the previous session, although concerns about the global spread of the virus capped gains.