Amazon looks to expand in Saudi Arabia
Ecommerce giant Amazon is looking to expand in Saudi Arabia after founder and CEO Jeff Bezos met with the country’s crown prince at the beginning of the month. The meeting was closely watched, and the prince had planned to discuss a potential project with the Ministry of Energy for Amazon to build a data center in the country. This would be Amazon’s first such center in the Middle East, and see it extend its cloud business (which is already the biggest in the world) to new territories.
Amazon’s share price has risen by 57% over the last 12 months
SOURCE: Yahoo Finance
At time of writing, it is not clear whether the proposed data center will come to fruition. However, what is clear is the fact that Amazon has started advertising for five new full time positions in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital city. The company’s subsidiary, Souq.com, has also added a further three positions in Dubai. Raf Fatani, Amazon’s head of policy in the Middle East and Africa, Tweeted the positions last week, which include roles in Ecommerce, groceries, and “a government relations representative.”
Amazon, which lost the Chinese market to Alibaba and is fighting for control of India, Brazil, and elsewhere, wants to build a secure business in the Middle East. Thus far, the region seems ripe for disruption – it has relatively high internet penetration rates, and an internet-savvy population, but has lagged behind in Ecommerce. As that picks up, Amazon wants to gain a firm foothold in a market that (taken together with Africa) is forecast to hit $49 billion by 2021, up from $21 billion this year.
Saudi Arabia is no stranger to American firms, as the U.S. is its largest investor. Sam Blatteis, CEO of the MENA Catalysts, a consultancy that aims to help tech companies expand into the Middle East, said: “The kingdom needs to increase foreign investment to help finance its ambitious reform and development agenda. This heightening American technology interest in Saudi Arabia really matters.”
Dominion holds Amazon in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.
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