Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Commerce has booked 44 online stores for violated new e-commerce laws, Saudi media reported.
With consumers increasingly shopping online or in-store using their mobile phones, the e-commerce law was introduced in October last year to unlock the country’s significant potential as a regional e-commerce hub, led by an affluent and tech-savvy population seeking the convenience and security of digital experiences.
The Kingdom enjoys one the highest internet penetration and mobile usage numbers in the region. According to recent data, 74.81 per cent of the Saudi population were internet users in 2018 and this figure is estimated to grow to 96.44 per cent in 2023, while smartphone users in the Kingdom are expected to grow to 21.3 million from 19.4 million.
The Kingdom is among the world’s 10 fastest growing states in e-commerce, with a growth rate exceeding 32 per cent annually.
During the past months, the Ministry had blocked five violating electronic stores’ websites immediately in coordination with the concerned authorities as soon as their violations were detected, referring them to the Violation Review Committee.
The new law applies to e-commerce platforms registered in the Kingdom as well as to businesses or individuals not registered in Saudi but engaged in offering products and services to Saudi consumers.
It is a significant step to enhance consumer confidence — offering consumers protection against fraudulent operators, data breach and other common malpractices in an electronic retail environment.
The ministry warned all consumers against buying from anonymous websites and accounts on social media, and calls for buying from electronic stores, accounts and pages that have a commercial registry or are registered with the “Maarouf” platform or internationally known websites, to ensure and preserve the rights of buyers.
Offenders face a fine of up to one million riyals, and blocking and closing the violating sites and preventing them from practicing activity.
The Saudi government is continuing to take several measures including improving digital payments, streamlining licensing, and activating affordable e-commerce enablers such as lower set-up costs and providing e-commerce software for trials.
The law provides a comprehensive regime for Saudi’s e-commerce market and will not only put the retail sector on a growth trajectory but enable it to become a significant contributor, around 80 per cent, to the Kingdom’s economic growth and diversification as part of the Vision 2030 plan.
The ministry urged all consumers to report via the link: mc.gov.sa/C-app, or the call centre (1900), or the official website of the Ministry of Commerce on the Internet. It also called on traders to review the e-commerce system and its implementing regulations via the link mc.gov.sa/ecc and adhere to it.