The Role of eCommerce in the Evolution of the ‘Sharing Economy’ in the Middle East


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From curing a headache to stuffing household items, the solution for all is available online, and hence we have become regular online shoppers. The eCommerce trend has got into each and every other person in the world, such that online shopping has become an everyday thing. In fact, the right amount of a nation’s economy comes from online sales today.

How’s eCommerce in MENA?

The Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) is the next to become an eCommerce hub. Inspired by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the two largest economies in the Middle East who are enjoying near-perfect conditions for ecommerce growth, many other countries are getting impressed by the cosmopolitan and multicultural society, business-friendly environment, and strong infrastructure of the eCommerce world and are welcoming the change with open hands and minds.

According to PayFort, the Middle East e-commerce market is expected to reach US$69 billion by 2020, while the overall growth across the Middle East and Africa would be at a CAGR of 11% in the next four years (2018-2022). Take, for example, the Gulf region itself. Within the next couple of years, its market will become the double of what it is today.

In short, the Middle East is slowly stepping ahead in terms of eCommerce, breaking the traditional businesses and business models and encouraging a new era of innovation, thereby giving rise to the sharing economy to buy and sell products and services.

What is the Sharing Economy?

Sharing economy or shareconomy is a collaborative economy that includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade, and consumption of goods and services by different people and organizations. This concept saves resources, thus preventing unnecessary wastage of money.

Let’s take a look at the sharing economy trends that are fuelling the growth of eCommerce in the Middle East.

1. Airbnb

One of the renowned online marketplaces that covers more than 81,000 cities and 191 countries worldwide popularized the sharing economy model by connecting people who want to rent out the extra spaces of their homes with people who are looking for lodging, primarily homestays, or tourism experiences. Thus, the house owner gets paid, and the visitor receives a homely stay at cheap rates. Airbnb doesn’t own any of the real estate sites or host events; instead, they simply act as brokers, receiving commissions from each booking.

Although there are many local hotels offering the same in the Middle East, Airbnb has made it convenient for any person sitting around any corner of the world to book a homely stay at an affordable rate without roaming around. This kind of sharing economy is thus slowly eliminating the pain of finding a cheap, safe, and well-equipped place to stay in the Middle East.

2. Uber

Another sharing economy bigwig, Uber, is an American multinational transportation network company (TNC) offering services that include peer-to-peer ridesharing, ride service hailing, food delivery, and a bicycle-sharing system.

One of the greatest rivals of Uber, Careem, was the sole ruler of the roads of the Middle East. Known to be MENA’s number one car booking app, Careem is an Emirati transportation network company based in Dubai, with operations in over 100 cities in 14 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. However, recently in the month of March, Uber acquired Careem for $3.1 Billion, allowing Careem to maintain an independent brand and operate separately.

The success of sharing economy model of Uber spread like a fire such that Uber today has become the first preference of the people around the world when it comes to sharing a ride or commuting alone rather than owning expensive vehicles. Uber has made it easy for commoners to take a ride in a vehicle of their choice at a reasonable rate without the need for investing in an automobile.

What does the future hold?

Due to the high internet and social media penetration in the Middle East, online businesses are blooming and touching skies there day by day. There is no doubt in the Middle East turning into a most preferred eCommerce hub in the coming years. UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt in North Africa are some of the biggest markets that has a vast potential to grow in the future. Besides, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar are also in line to gain strong ecommerce presence and growth.

Some of the leading ecommerce marketplaces in the Middle East are, which is now acquired by Amazon,, Namshi, Ali Express, Jumia, Lulu, eBay, etc.


Sharing economy means less waste, better quality, good revenue, high quality over cheap, more variety, lower commitment, and less guilt which is inspiring a lot of startups to adapt this new economy by starting their own online sharing and rental business. If you too are ready to have your own on-demand marketplace solution, allow us.

Rakesh Jain
Rakesh Jain is CEO and Co-founder of MobiCommerce, an eCommerce web & mobile app development company to build Magento Mobile App and PrestaShop Mobile App for online eCommerce stores. With an entrepreneurial experience of 14 years, he is a visionary who proactively look out for the next big thing.


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