In an even bigger push for the e-commerce domain in the Middle East, Souq.com, the region’s first e-commerce and online shopping portal, has raised a hefty financial backing of about US$ 150 million or about 551 dirham, with US$ 75 million recently being invested into it by its investor, Naspers.
Souq.com, an aptly named domain for the Arabic term for ‘shopping markets’, was started nearly around a decade ago in 2005 and formed one of the major revolutionising business paradigm for the Middle Eastern region. The website is located in UAE, more specifically in Dubai. Presently, it is a highly preferred web domain in the entirety of the Middle East and offers an extensive range of products right from the well-known and major international brands to locally niche yet highly qualitative smaller manufacturers.
Some of the most noteworthy statistical achievements of the website include:
- About 23 million visitants to the website every month, potentially expected to increase even more
- Over six million registered users who actively use the domain for purchase
- Over 4,00,000 products featured as a part of the overall product catalogue across 15 major categories
- As per Naspers’ report, the website is currently valued at about US$ 500 million
- Employee count of about 1,000 personnel
What it Implies
MasterCard and PayPal both recently came up with highly positive survey results for the presence and growth of the e-commerce and online shopping in the UAE and Middle Eastern region. The high value of financial backing invested in Souq.com has thus come to be seen as a significant catalyst to accentuate the fast-growing e-commerce sector.
The CEO and co-founder of the website, Mr. Ronaldo Mouchawar promised even huger growths and increments to the existing contribution of Souq.com in the Middle East thanks to this lucrative capital injection by Naspers. “We plan to use the funds to deepen our technology investment. We will focus on innovation to provide our customers with a unique and advanced mobile experience, a personalised user experience, and unprecedented delivery and customer service quality. We will also invest in our talent pool to help build these world-class standards”, Mr. Mouchawar elaborated specifically.
Souq.com first entered into capitalist backed stakeholding with the South African company, in 2012 and in the two years following this agreement, it has emerged that the website has grown 10-times with substantially enhanced commerce figures and statistics boosting its presence and viability. Prior to its US$ 75 million backing, Naspers had a stake of about 38.5% in the company which will increase further following this latest investment. Along with Naspers, Souq.com is also backed by the Middle Eastern conglomerate, Jabbar Internet Group and New York-based investment organisation, Tiger Global Management.
Expectations for the Future
The success of Souq.com and the promising survey results of MasterCard and PayPal have raised more positivity about the acceptance of such e-commerce web portals. As far as the sustainability of e-commerce websites is concerned in the Middle East, companies and even individuals can be rest assured that the e-commerce and online shopping sector in the Middle East is one that won’t be fading ‘out of sight’ or ‘out of mind’ in the near future.