Dubai-based business mogul Mohamed Alabbar has announced that plans are currently underway to produce a huge regional e-commerce site selling fashion and beauty products, amongst many other categories. Due to go online in January, Noon.com will have 50 per cent investment backing from Saudi's Public Investment Fund (PIF) with the rest being made up from approximately 60 investors led by Alabbar.
The announcement was made following Alabbar's confirmation of local media reports that he recently met with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in Dubai. "It was a friendly meeting. They came around to explore what's going on in the Middle East," he said.
Mohamed Alabbar. Image: The National
The Emaar property magnate shared at a news conference yesterday that distribution centres are currently being set up in Riyadh and Jeddah, along with a giant warehouse the size of 60 football stadiums in Dubai, "We expect to become a world player but will concentrate firstly on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates," he said.
Noon.com will - somewhat unsurprisingly for a project under the man behind the Burj Khalifa - start ambitiously. It's set to launch with an initial inventory of 20 million products, looking to expand to Egypt at the end of next year. According to Bloomberg, Alabbar would like the Noon brand to be traded on stock markets after five to seven years, and it aims to be profitable within five years.
While there's no word yet on specific fashion and beauty brands involved, the staggering inventory will also include books, home and garden, electronics, sports and outdoor, health, personal care, toys, children's and baby products - with the option of card payments online or cash on delivery, offered with a same day service. Leading the launch is chief executive Fodhil Benturquia, who served as a former executive at Middle East e-commerce platform Souq.com, which is often described as "the Amazon of the Middle East" having started as an auction site before moving into commercial retail. Souq.com announced the generation of $273m from international investors earlier this year, to finance its own expansion plans.