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Some popular trends in the Middle East online marketplace

When we look geographically, it has wealthy oil producing countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with broad economies like Turkey and Egypt.

There are numerous factors which make the middle east ecommerce marketplace fruitful.

1-Large and wealthy population, 28% aged between 15-29.

2-Combined GDP of the region is $3.9 trillion (at par with Germany)

3-Iran and Egypt have high number of internet users (Iran 56,700,000 and Egypt 48,211,493)

Let us share with you a little comparison. Middle east countries ecommerce sales are at 23% of total retail from 2018 to 2021 and the US reached 4% in 2004. This comparison clearly shows how much there is a need for ecommerce marketplaces in the middle eastern countries.

In this blog post, we will discover all the popular trends in the ecommerce marketplace of the MENA region.

Table of Contents

1-Youthful and rich population

UAE and Saudi Arabia are considered wealthy countries and whereas Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Lebanon are less densely populated.

Egypt is the largest populated country in the Middle East followed by Turkey, Iran and Iraq.

UAE is the wealthiest county with Dubai being the richest city. Like we mentioned earlier, 28% is a young population between the ages 15-29.

2-More buys on imported goods

Gulf states have witnessed an exponential growth from 2015 to 2020 with a record of $20 billion profit in 2020. And most of that profit from imported goods from other countries. This shows that big giants of ecommerce should invest more in the middle eastern companies with that much of a demand.

  • 66% of middle east online shoppers  purchase from businesses outside their region. (

Also, 48% of the online shopping ideas are via surfing online marketplaces and Dubai is taking the lead with several other ecommerce marketplaces in the UAE and other regional countries.

3-More purchased items are home products, fashion and beauty

To be exact, electronics, fashion, beauty, grocery and home products account for 98% of the ecommerce market of UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Given these categories, other marketplaces can try these niches for selling their products in MENA region.

4-Rise in online retail penetration in GCC (Gulf  Cooperation Council)

Covid affected the major economies of the middle east countries and one thing which actually has shown a positive penetration is rise in online retail penetration.

As a percentage of total retail in GCC, it’s estimated at 11% in 2021 whereas it was 6.4% in 2019.

Here are some stats on estimated ecommerce user penetration in 2021:

1-Saudi Arabia – 80.2%

2-UAE – 69.4%

3-Qatar – 62.1%

4-Cyprus – 61.3%

5-Kuwait – 58.3%

6-Bahrain – 56.4%

7-Iran – 52.4%

8-Turkey – 48%

9-Oman – 48%

10-Israel – 47.4%

11- Egypt – 46.5%

12-Jordan – 34.9%

5-Buyers get product information on smartphones before they intend to buy

In UAE, 85% consumers get product information from smartphone before making a buying decision.

In Saudi Arabia, 80% consumers get product information from smartphone before making a buying decision.

6-Quality and health are top reasons why consumers prefer online shopping

There are three top reasons why consumers of the Middle East prefer shopping online.

  • 51% buy online because they are getting good quality
  • 44% buy online because that is safe and healthy post-covid
  • 39% buy online because it’s affordable.

7-More card payments than COD as a payment method

In the year 2020, another popular trend which was observed is the increase in card payments from cash on delivery as a payment method.

  • 44% online purchases via card in 2020
  • 23% online purchases via cash in 2020
  • 61% in GCC use cards for online transactions

8-More purchases from social media

Most MENA consumers discover new sellers via social media and that too mostly on Facebook and Instagram.

  • 70% discover new sellers via Facebook
  • 59% discover new sellers via Instagram

Final words

We have listed down all the popular and latest trends of the middle east online marketplace to give you market ideas based on stats. Middle eastern consumers love online shopping, in fact they buy imported goods more frequently than any other thing which is a green signal for big or small entrepreneurs to try out selling in the MENA region.

Let’s hop on a call or schedule one where our business analyst can give you a clear understanding if you want to develop a marketplace for the middle east region.

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