Dubai recorded an 83 per cent year-on-year surge in the number of e-commerce business licences issued in the first half of the year as consumer demand for online shopping grew during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The emirate’s Department of Economic Development issued its DED Trader licence to 1,947 new businesses during the first six months of 2020, up from 1,064 in the same period a year ago, it said yesterday.
The total number of DED Trader licences issued in June reached 577, an increase of 163 per cent on the same month last year, according to the government body.
“Dubai Economy launched the DED Trader licence to promote e-commerce and the competitiveness of Dubai’s economy, as well as to realise the vision of the government to drive digital transformation,” the department said.
“Due to its advanced logistical structure and the high demand for internet use in the previous months, Dubai has succeeded in realising its smart transformation.”
The licence was first issued by the the department's Business Registration and Licensing section in 2017, allowing business activities online and across social networking accounts.
The pandemic has shifted UAE consumer habits, spurring a preference for shopping online and boosting e-commerce sales. Currently, 68 per cent of respondents surveyed in the UAE are shopping less at physical stores since the coronavirus outbreak began and 49 per cent are shopping more online, according to a study by Visa, Dubai Police and Dubai Economy.
Of those increasing online purchases, 61 per cent are using cards and digital wallets to pay instead of cash on delivery.
Some 382 online activities are permitted through DED Trader licences, and up to 10 activities are permitted for a single licence, provided that they are consistent within the same group category.
Lifestyle coaching topped the list of online activities being sought through DED licences during the first half of the year. This was followed by marketing services through social media, social media application development and management, perfumes and cosmetics trading, marketing management, project management services, website design, womenswear tailoring and ready-made garments trading.
Through the licence, Dubai Economy seeks to regulate and improve the ease of doing business digitally.
The licensee cannot open a store but can gain up to three employment visas if the ownership is 100 per cent Emirati and legal liability falls with the licence holder.
The e-commerce licence is issued electronically through the dedtrader.ae website.
Opting for a DED Trader licence provides benefits such as Dubai Chamber membership, bank facilities, temporary employment services, participation in exhibitions and conferences, access to training workshops and the provision of workspace, the department said.
Online retailers are ramping up their product ranges to attract customers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dubai has focused on supporting small and medium-sized enterprises during the crisis through a series of financial packages intended to ease access to liquidity and enable business continuity.