"Amazon of the Middle East" Draws New Investment, Shines Spotlighton Increased Consumption Behavior

In the June 2010 Business Credit article titled “Unveiling Opportunity: Economic Potential Comes with Vagueness, Potential Risk in Islamic Finance,” international credit experts painted a picture in which the Middle East’s younger and more educated population wanted more consumer-based products such as iPods, smartphones and designer-brand clothing.

Feeding into such continuing trends is news this week that a growing online retailer based in Dubai, Souq.com, was selling a significant stake in its business to the South Africa-based media group Naspers. While final details remain sketches, Souq.com officials likened the deal’s scope to the significant Yahoo! acquisition of Maktoob three years ago. Naspers previously bought into ventures in China, Russia and India, as well as part of its global media market expansion.

Souq.com officials purport it is the “largest e-commerce site in the Arab world”-----one that attracts over eight million visits from online shoppers in the Middle East and North Africa regions per month-----and readily acknowledge the widely-held moniker “Amazon of the Middle East.” One look at its website and a user will find striking similarities to Amazon’s e-commerce platform, just one of those aimed at the demographic of those regions.

-Brian Shappell, CBA, NACM staff writer

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