‘Technology key to Gulf’s retail sector’s post-COVID-19 recovery,’ retailers told

Studies have shown how the pandemic forced Gulf consumers to adapt to new technology. (File/Shutterstock)
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Updated 23 July 2020

‘Technology key to Gulf’s retail sector’s post-COVID-19 recovery,’ retailers told

  • Retail sector officials and experts noted a shift in consumer behavior in the region

DUBAI: Technology will play a crucial role for the recovery of the Gulf’s $275.4-billion retail sector after the COVID-19 pandemic pushed global industries to the wall, experts have said in an online retail event.

Retail sector officials and experts noted a shift in consumer behavior in the region, adding how latest technology and digital transformation are now key to unlocking the market’s potential.

A recent survey conducted by Ernst & Young in May 2020 found that 92 percent of consumers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia have changed their shopping habits – including shifting to online purchase.

“Technology will drive digital initiatives. Good customer experience will come from an innovation mindset, driven using different technology tools,” Piyush Kumar Chowhan, Group Chief Information Officer, Lulu Group International, the largest retailer in the Gulf.

He added data and artificial intelligence could “nurture the growth of the retail sector.”

Studies have shown how the pandemic forced Gulf consumers to adapt to new technology – including to contactless payments and remote shopping through mobile applications.

The Visa CEMEA Impact Tracker has shown a shift to online commerce, with cash transactions being replaced by digital payments. The survey found many consumers in the UAE started shopping online for the first time.

Saudi Arabia’s Bin Dawood Group reported 400 percent jump in app downloads while online sales jumped 200 percent in just a few weeks.

While these new methods become prominent, Youssef Olama, Information Technology Director at Spinneys Egypt, warned of one of its dangers – breach of privacy for consumers.

“Technology is undoubtedly the key to future business growth. Data science will be important to understand market trends and leverage them within the business. But we should avoid tracking customers. Privacy has to be well-defined in terms of data usage,” he said.


Egypt signs lucrative gas deals

Updated 27 min 48 sec ago

Egypt signs lucrative gas deals

  • Five agreements were signed during the last fiscal year

CAIRO: The Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) has signed eight research and exploration agreements with investments of $934 million.

Five agreements were signed during the last fiscal year and three others during the first quarter of this fiscal year.

Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla said that the integrated strategy adopted by the ministry to develop Egypt’s natural gas resources has succeeded in recording the highest rates of natural gas production in the history of the country, achieving gas self-sufficiency and resuming exports.

He said that natural gas plays a significant role in achieving economic returns, in addition to attracting new international companies to work in the field of research and exploration in Egypt.

El-Molla said a project to transform Egypt into a regional center for the handling and trade of gas and oil is being planned.

The minister stressed the importance of implementing the national project for providing natural gas to all Egyptian governorates and citizens.

Magdy Galal, EGAS head, reviewed the development of natural gas production rates during the past five years and the efforts to confront the natural decrease of wells.

He said that during the recent fiscal year, the company signed a total of five agreements. On top of the $934 million in investments, there were also signing grants worth $51 million.

He added that the company has 37 ongoing agreements, a result of a Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources strategy, which attracted new investments and the entry of Exxon Mobil and Chevron in the field of research and exploration in Egypt, and an increase in investments from companies such as Shell and Total.

He said the company is finalizing six other agreements with investments of $731 million and $14 million in signing grants.