Digital commerce in the United Arab Emirates is already well-developed, with numerous well-established online players present across the retailing, consumer foodservice, travel and tourism and services industries. Many of these successful online players are not digital natives however and their forays into the digital realm came on the back of the strong physical presence that they already had prior to the development of their digital commerce activities.
Although the development of digital commerce in many countries has for many years been held back by low consumer confidence in the security and safety of digital payment systems, this has not applied in the United Arab Emirates. Instead, for many years consumers have been more than willing to engage with online payment portals, using their financial cards to pay for a wide range of goods or services online.
As digital commerce in the United Arab Emirates is already more developed than in many other countries, there is a higher degree of saturation in evidence than in most other countries. With this in mind, some of the key players in digital commerce are already looking to expand their operations into new areas as a way of creating greater room for growth.
As mentioned above, ride hailing player Careem recently collaborated with Dubai’s Roads and Transportation Authority (RTA) to develop a project which saw RTA taxis included as an option on the Careem transport booking platform. This involved the integration of Hala, RTA’s taxi booking app, into the Careem ride hailing app and the result was seamless integration between taxi booking and ride hailing.
After Amazon acquired the leading e-commerce player in the GCC region Souq.com for USD580 million in 2017, the global leader in e-commerce rebranded Souq.
Towards the end of the review period, several digital payment platforms of Chinese origin continued to gain ground in the United Arab Emirates. Among the strongest players in this area are WeChat Pay and UnionPay, which operate in the country via their respective partnerships with Network International, a leader in digital commerce across the MENA region.
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