What People Think of online shopping in Gulf Countries?

Anwar Noor Baloch
Whether it is traditional business or E-business their success and failure depends on planning. The well planned business allows the entrepreneur to earn profit and grow business without many hurdles. Since the world has already entered in the age of internet and technology, the way of doing business must be different, easy, modern, attractive and effortless for buyers and sellers. Traditional business should be evolved or to be shifted to electronic/ online business.
Most of the families in Gulf Countries use internet. Taking from school students to employees at workplaces and offices are using internet. Out of 24 hours at least 6 to 8 hours are used for internet surfing.  It too has been realised that, the current generation is intelligent and sharp in using technology. Some of them have designed and launched attractive websites. All such skills should serve the founders, users and countries, economically. Will their technology competencies take them to run business online and to purchase items online?
The GCC was formed in 1981. It combined the six GCC states (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and UAE) and has a population of around 43.2 million, roughly half of Egypt’s total population as found from Google.
According to www.internetworldstats.com, it was found that, in Oman, in 2000 the population was around 2.4 million and the internet users were around (90,000) 3.8 per cent of the total population of the country. The internet users had increased to around 2 million when the population was around 3 million in 2012.  According to the article published on February, 14 2016 in www.gulfbusiness.com that: ‘”Internet subscribers also increased 24.4 per cent by the end of October, thanks to 25 per cent growth in fixed broadband subscribers. Mobile subscriptions increased 7.6 per cent to 3.1 million.”
“I can’t go for online shopping. I don’t trust them,” said Muhira who prefers traditional business rather than online one. “Maybe I am not very much familiar about the technology and that’s why I am scared of losing my money on online shopping”, she added. “I usually purchase books from amazon.com for my son. It’s fewer headaches and there is no that much risk as understood”, said Abu Sam, an Omani local. Abu Sam has also said that, “I always book tickets online and never go to travel agencies, because technology is serving us a lot with less cost and save time.”
One of the researches of 2014 from Mohammed Bin Rashed College, UAE, had identified that: “Our research indicates that today, there are more than 135 million individuals using the Internet in the 22 Arab countries”.  Though, there are a huge number of populations using the internet, generally in 22 Arab countries and particular in six GCC, but there is no impact on online business as practically observed in six Gulf countries, from which most of those countries may benefit and to change the perspective of business.
In 2015 the population of UAE was around 9.5 million and the internet users were around 8.8 million, according to the Global Media Insight website. How much people in UAE go for online shopping or do online business? “I have gone through online shopping several times, in UAE and I did not face any risk. Method of payment is optional, either to pay in cash or by credit card and it is very easy”, said Waleed an Emirati national.
“I usually purchase items online; the www.souq.com is one of my online shopping destinations. The advantages of online shopping are many as it saves time; many items are cheaper comparing to other places and easy payment. The disadvantage is that as sometimes there will be wrong delivery”, said Abu Mohammed from Bahrain.
One of the surveys reported that, about online shopping in Arab countries and that indicated that the majority of respondents to this survey do not shop online. 64 per cent of respondents have never purchased books online. 54 per cent of respondents have never purchased airline tickets online. 76 per cent of respondents have never purchased movie/theater tickets online. 55 per cent of respondents don’t purchase other items online.
However, online shopping and E-business depend on internet service providers.  It has been reported in current news that, Qatar’s Ooredoo Group lost 1.5 million customers in Iraq last year and saw its financial performance impacted by currency issues. Iraqi unit Asia cell’s customer base shrank from 12.3 million to 10.8 million and revenue declined 22 per cent to QAR 4.88m in 2015. Such shrink leads to reduction of online shopping and E-business.
Writer is a Senior Trainer at Bank Sohar and a guest speaker at CBFS
DisclaimerViews expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agrees with them.
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