Hisham Abdullah Al Shirawi, Vice Chairman, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry flanked by Sophie Wu, Senior Vice President, Alibaba Group, Board Member and President of Alibaba.Com and 1688.com (right) and Belaid Rettab, PH.D Chief Economist, Senior Director, Economic Research and Sustainable Business Development, Dubai Chamber launch Mega Sourcing 2020 during 2nd Mena e-Commerce Conference in Dubai. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has partnered with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group to launch a procurement site in preparation for major global events coming up in the region, such as the World Expo 2020 in Dubai, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, besides other major events.

“[The platform is] tailored especially for Expo 2020 sourcing needs in five key industries, including building materials, consumer electronics, machinery, fashion and apparel,” said Belaid Rettab, senior director of economic research and sustainable business development sector at Dubai Chamber.

Mega Sourcing 2020, which goes online on Wednesday, is targeted at both small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and larger companies in the Middle East and China, he said at the Middle East and North Africa E-Commerce Conference 2014 in Dubai on Wednesday.

The platform is also aimed at strengthening business relations between China and the Middle East.

“Dubai will host the Expo 2020 and Qatar will be hosting [the 2022 FIFA World Cup]. There is a lot of sourcing involved. We are trying to facilitate a better trade practice, and make everyone efficient in capturing the $42 billion sourcing opportunity,” said Michael Lee, Alibaba director of international business development.

The fastest growing categories on Alibaba’s website in the region include apparel, machinery, auto parts, electronics, and food and beverage.

Alibaba plans to have a presence at Dubai Chamber’s offices in a few weeks for customer support services. It does not, however, plan to launch operations in Dubai at present, Lee said.

“That depends on how the market reacts to our services. We are open to the idea but that depends on the needs from the local market,” he said.

The e-commerce giant was under the limelight in September when it raised $25 billion (Dh91.8 billion) in an initial public offering, the biggest share sale globally this year.

Dubai Chamber earlier this year expanded its online portal with Alibaba across the emirates, allowing members from Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah to join. The portal allows its member to display and sell their goods and services to global companies.

The UAE e-commerce market is estimated at $2.5 billion at present, and is expected to grow to $10 billion by 2018, Hisham Al Shirawi, second vice-chairman at Dubai Chamber, said in a statement.