Emaar Malls, the shopping center unit of Dubai’s biggest publicly traded property developer, made a bid for online retailer Souq.com seeking to challenge an existing offer from Amazon, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Amazon restarted talks to acquire Souq.com in a deal valued at as much as $650 million after walking away earlier this year, people close to the matter said earlier this month.
Amazon had been considering its entry into the Middle East under its own name. However, buying Souq.com provides it with an existing customer base and the infrastructure to store and deliver products.
One of the rival bidders was tycoon Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Dubai real estate company Emaar.
In November, the prominent businessman revealed plans to launch Noon, an e-commerce start-up with financial backing from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, controlled by the kingdom’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Alabbar, most renowned for his central role in Dubai’s real estate market, is now focusing on technology in his personal businesses.
For his part, Saudi economist Fadl al-Buainain said that e-commerce is expected to take over the whole market very soon, which will allow virtual markets to control flows in the retail sector and important commodities, forcing companies to found virtual sites in line with the real ones.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Buainain said that investors are looking for investments in the field of technology and e-markets to achieve rapid and huge gains in addition to future control over the markets.
He added that investors in the region also seek promoting the concept of excellence associated with e-markets, prompting investors to acquire e-commerce websites.
Buainain confirmed that development and dependence on online shopping has become seductive for investors in the retail sector.
Therefore, any strategic investor takes into consideration the future changes affiliated with gradual transformation towards new techniques and change in the e-markets that could be witnessed by the region within the coming five years.
By Musaid Al-Zayani
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