Growth of E-Commerce in the Arab World


The second ABES2023 introductory forum was on the growth of e-commerce in the Arab world and was hosted by the ABCC on the afternoon of 27 April.

Welcoming speakers and delegates, Mr Bandar Reda, ABCC Secretary General & CEO, spoke of the rapid growth of e-commerce in the Arab world where the adoption of new technologies was high.

Mr Reda further explained that the introductory forum was a preview of what could be expected in one of the sessions to be featured in the Arab British Economic Forum 2023, when it takes place in November.

Opening the discussion, Mr Abdeslam El-Idrissi, ABCC Deputy CEO & Secretary General, stated that there were many definitions of what e-commerce actually entailed and it was the aim of the forum to explore the wider issues as well as the opportunities that the growth of technology created.

Mr El-Idrissi highlighted the success of ABES2022 which he described as “the only show in town” that brings together businesses from all over the UK and throughout the Arab world.

He urged company representatives who were not yet members of the ABCC to join and take advantage of the special Platinum membership offer which would enable them to have a presence at the trade exhibition that is part of ABES2023.

Speakers at the forum delivered insightful and engaging presentations on the many aspects of e-commerce and how it was dramatically transforming the retail sector in particular.

While global corporates such as Amazon were strong across the Middle East, homegrown brands were increasingly emerging, Dr Imran Zawwar, CEO, London Strategy Centre, observed.

Dr Zawwar described how e-commerce was now pivotal in the Arab region with more than 60% of shoppers now sourcing products from outside their countries.

The Arab population of 456 million people presented a growing and dynamic market for e-commerce, he said.

Andrew Elia, Managing Partner, Arishi, shared his insights as a technology expert observing that the rapid growth in e-commerce in the Arab region was creating major opportunities for investors. He saw adoption of new online payments systems as an important area of growth in the regional markets.

Mr Elia also offered his positive experience of taking part in ABES2022 and recommended the event to others seeking to engage more closely with the Arab business sector.

Mr Ralph Nehme, Economic Attache, Lebanese Embassy, London, provided details of the strength of the technology and innovation sector in his country.

He welcomed the strong bilateral ties between the UK and Lebanon which was helping to build new relationships within the tech sector, including in e-commerce.

Mr Nehme stated that the ICT sector in Lebanon contributed 3% to the country’s GDP with the main drivers being high internet penetration, smart phone use, popularity of social media and efficient digital payments.

He stressed that Lebanon had numerous strong and growing local e-commerce players.

The final speaker, Marwan Gedeon, contributed to the discussion by delivering an online presentation from his office in Beirut.

Mr Gedeon was the founding partner of a successful tech company in Lebanon called CME Offshore sal, which was providing high quality professional services to clients worldwide.

The event concluded with a range of questions from the audience, including valuable remarks on the maturity of the Arab e-commerce sector, from the Libyan representatives, and ended with a networking reception.