Noon, the US$1 billion e-commerce platform co-founded by the Emaar Properties chairman Mohamed Alabbar and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), started operations in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, as it looks to tap into the region's burgeoning e-commerce market.
The e-retail joint venture is 50 per cent held by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund PIF, while a group of Arabian Gulf investors including Mr Alabbar controls the remaining stake. It went live in the UAE in September.
"Noon brings a dynamic, locally-driven and customer-oriented digital marketplace to the kingdom serving the community and offering a new and improved experience," Mr Alabbar said in a statement. He added that Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's biggest economy, is entering a new era of economic and digital transformation led by the kingdom's Vision 2030 programme. .
The Riyadh-based "Arabic-first" platform will sell a range of products across categories including electronics, fashion, beauty, baby, home & kitchen appliances and groceries, in partnership with established retailers and small and medium-sized businesses .
Noon has a dedicated distribution hub, logistics network and secure payment gateway to serve the kingdom, the company said in the statement. .
Mr Alabbar in October told the Future Investment Forum in Riyadh that Noon would launch in Saudi Arabia before the end of the year.
The platform, he on Tuesday , will offer Saudi entrepreneurs, including start-ups, the opportunity to be part of a fast-growing digital ecosystem.
Noon's expansion to Saudi Arabia comes amid a flurry of e-commerce deals in the Middle East as investors jostle for a share of the region's e-commerce market that is set to grow to $20bn by 2020. The value of all online sales in the Middle East is expected to double to $48.8bn by 2021, according to BMI Research, a Fitch Group company.
Earlier this year, US giant Amazon snapped up Dubai-based online retailer Souq.com in a deal worth $580 million. Also this year, UAE e-commerce site JadoPado was acquired by a technology fund led by Mr Alabbar.
Noon has previously said it plans to move its headquarters from the UAE to Riyadh when the site launches in the kingdom.