Receiving packages made easier for Saudi online shoppers

Receiving packages made easier for Saudi online shoppers
The e-commerce market is booming in the Gulf region. (Supplied)
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Updated 14 December 2020

Receiving packages made easier for Saudi online shoppers

Receiving packages made easier for Saudi online shoppers
  • UAE’s FODEL is launching its pick-up and drop-off network in the Kingdom

JEDDAH: UAE’s Forward Delivery (FODEL) is launching its pick-up and drop-off network into Saudi Arabia as part of its expansion across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The tech startup offers an alternative to home delivery by setting up a network of locations for customers to pick up their orders. The service facilitates access to buyers’ shipments while ensuring packages are not lost or delayed.

FODEL helps retailers with revenue by increasing visitation to stores while minimizing last-mile logistics for delivery companies in Saudi Arabia, where the company estimated that delivery failure rates were as high as 40 percent, leading to customer complaints.

The service also reduces one of the most prominent e-commerce issues for retailers, which is return-to-origin delivery.

Soumia Benturquia, CEO and founder of FODEL, said that the e-commerce market “has been booming” in the GCC, forecasting that the sector will be worth $20 billion by the end of the year.

“E-commerce is part of the fundamental pillars of Vision 2030, and we are extremely proud to launch our operations in KSA and contribute to the Kingdom’s growth. With a young, tech-savvy population, Saudi e-commerce penetration is expected to grow significantly over the next few years, and we hope to offer our customers more convenience and control with our pick-up and drop-off solution,” Benturquia told Arab News.

Hamdi Osman, chairman of FODEL and a former senior vice president for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Indian subcontinent at FedEx, said that the tech startup has managed to “transform the last-mile delivery model for the entire logistics landscape in the region.”

“Its disruptive technology and proven business model add great value at every step of the supply chain while providing flexibility and peace of mind to the end users of courier services,” he added.

In addition to the Kingdom, FODEL is broadening its services to cover other GCC countries, including Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

By working with over 2,000 merchants in the Kingdom, the UAE, Kuwait and Oman, FODEL turns merchant locations into pick-up spots where consumers can collect their shipments themselves.

The startup was launched in 2018, and it has received funding from investors and advisors such as Cultiv8 Investments in Dubai (a subsidiary of the Mohammed bin Rashid Fund for small and medium enterprises), Al-Rajhi and Hamdi Osman.

FODEL currently has more than 1,000 pick-up locations available with many leading e-commerce and logistics companies in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi imports from China up 17.8 percent in 2020 to $28.1bn

Saudi imports from China up 17.8 percent in 2020 to $28.1bn
Updated 7 min 2 sec ago

Saudi imports from China up 17.8 percent in 2020 to $28.1bn

Saudi imports from China up 17.8 percent in 2020 to $28.1bn
  • Bilateral trade between the two countries remains steady amid the ongoing global health crisis

RIYADH: Saudi imports from China rose 17.8 percent year-on-year in 2020 to $28.1 billion, according to a report from Mubasher, citing figures from China Customs.

Despite this increase, the Kingdom’s overall trade surplus with China was down 63.9 percent last year to $6.2 billion, thereport said.

Trading between the two nations has remained steady.

On Wednesday, Reuters news agency reported that Chinese government data showed the Kingdom was still the world’s biggest oil exporter, as well as beating Russia to keep its ranking as China’s top crude supplier in 2020.

Oil demand in China, the world’s top oil importer, remained strong last year despite the challenges brought on by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Chinese imports rose 7.3 percent to a record 542.4 million tons, or 10.85 million barrels per day (bpd).


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Saudi shipments to China in 2020 rose 1.9 percent from a year earlier to 84.92 million tons, or about 1.69 million bpd, data from the General Administration of Chinese Customs showed.

Political commentator Zaid M. Belbagi wrote in an Arab News opinion piece that, with the increased importance of land and sea routes connecting Asia with Europe and Africa, China increasingly saw relations with the Arab world as “central” to its geostrategic ambitions.

“There is, however, a disconnect between the expansion of Chinese involvement in the region across the political and economic realms and the cultural and diplomatic connectivity required to deepen ties that will not only ensure Chinese interests, but also encourage Arab states to partake in the new world China is building in its own image,” he said.

Saudi-China relations have strengthened over the years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, ties were further strengthened with the two countries offering each other assistance and staunch support.

The past three years have marked a rapid increase in Saudi-China links. King Salman visited the country as part of a six-country Asian tour early in 2017, setting the seal on a “comprehensive strategic partnership” between the two countries when he met Chines President Xi Jinping.

A joint high-level committee was established to guide future economic development strategy.

That was followed by a later visit by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, adding greater depth to the relationship and further aligning the two countries’ main economic development plans — the Belt and Road Initiative by which China seeks to play a leading role in regional development, and the Vision 2030 strategy aimed at diversifying Saudi Arabia away from oil dependency.

China has also become the top export destination of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) petrochemicals and chemicals, accounting for about 25 percent of GCC exports.

At $180 billion, the GCC (GCC) trade with China accounts for over 11 percent of the bloc’s overall trade. In 2020, China became the GCC’s top trading partner, replacing the EU for the first time.