A report in Gulf News last year in September revealed why the UAE was possibly one of the fastest-growing hubs for e-commerce in the region, quoting a joint study by Dubai Economy and global payments technology company provider Visa. The report, which quotes factors such as high digital penetration, digital natives and the rise in usage of mobile wallets for expansion in the e-commerce space, also mirrors the activity that free zones in the UAE are seeing in terms of queries from entrepreneurs to set up e-commerce businesses in the UAE.
Speaking to local media earlier this year in July, Mohammed Al Muallem, CEO and Managing Director, DP World, UAE Region and CEO of the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority revealed that the e-commerce sector saw heightened activity within the country during the pandemic. “The e-commerce business sector was issued the highest number of licences in the UAE, during May 2020. The first five months saw a 300 per cent increase in consumer demand for e-commerce services,” he said.
Mamta Raj, Managing Director, Flying Colour, a UAE-based premium business consultancy firm, agrees that a lot of free zones are providing incentives to entrepreneurs planning to set up in the ecommerce space because of the rising interest in the sector.
“With consumers moving online in response to the coronavirus situation, e-commerce businesses have seen massive increase in online shopping. Even the giant retail chains that have brick-and-mortar stores around the world but with little or no online presence have been forced to focus on fortifying and building an online business. Flying Colour has assisted clients from end to end in setting up licences in the free zones and also liaised clients with ecommerce portal developers for building their platforms.
Shabana Shaikh, Head, Sales and Marketing, Capital International Group (CIG), feels entrepreneurs in the UAE have understood that ecommerce is no longer a luxury but a necessity, a need they are happy to meet with the introduction of multiple portals and supported by free zone bodies.
“As people communicate globally through the internet, the ecommerce sector has become a necessity. Dubai has seen a steady increase in the online shopping industry over the past few years and the ecommerce market will be contributing more revenues to the economy in future.”
Shabana definitely believes a lot of opportunity exists for entrepreneurs looking to launch into the space in the here and now, with CIG willing to offer necessary support. “If you think you are ready to take the plunge and take your small business or concept to the cloud, it might be a nice choice to try an ecommerce business. We at CIG would be glad to assist you through any Emirates mainland licence or free trade zone.”
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