As the world increasingly relies on online business transactions, the Arab e-commerce world is lagging behind. Steps are requried to encourage Arab businesses to boost their investment in this critical business area.
Arab e-commerce is poised for huge growth and companies in this region must take advantage of this opportunity. The technologies that underline these systems provide unprecedented information and insights into customer behavior.
ABU DHABI // The Arab world is lagging behind the rest of the world in the digital revolution, a business leader has said, despite its high number of internet users.
Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar, on Monday night told the Ramadan Majlis of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed that the UAE should be more involved in e-commerce.
“In the Arab world, there will be 300 million internet users by 2020,” Mr Alabbar said. “Our lives have become entirely dependent on the internet. We spend four hours a day connected on our mobile phones of which three hours are spent on social media.” Last year, the total amount spent on e-commerce in the country was Dh7 billion.
“The overall commercial value of trade in the country was Dh600bn and only a small portion of this is traded online,” Mr Alabbar said. “Those numbers are really low and we need to get into the opportunities that the digital revolution is providing.
“Huge global companies collect and aggregate data about our purchase patterns, eating habits, beliefs, friends and financials. They mine that data for insights and over time do a significantly better job than us at targeting our own consumers.”
“The profit pool then begins to shift away from asset owners and towards tech companies leaving us all behind.”
Companies that control the information on consumers control the market, he said.
He cited international online retailers including Amazon, which has a net worth seven times that of the biggest traditional retailers, and Priceline Group, owners of the Booking.com, which is worth more than the five biggest major hotel groups combined.