(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) An overwhelming majority of trade and industry experts believe that Dubai has the necessary logistics capabilities and infrastructure needed for it to become the e-commerce gateway to the region.
According to a poll conducted at the Jafza Associates Forum 2013, held recently under the theme 'Dubai E-Commerce Centre of the Region: Drivers, Challenges and Opportunities,' 97 per cent of the attendees felt that Dubai has the right infrastructure to position itself as the leading hub of e-commerce in the region.
Specifically, the attendees polled saw logistics capabilities, infrastructure, access to the Internet, and regulations and standards for e-commerce as Dubai's strong points. But, about half (52 per cent) felt that in order for Dubai to lead the region in e-commerce, regulation and standards as well as Internet penetration needed to be improved from their current levels.
A panel discussion with leading logistics and e-commerce experts Hussein Hachem, CEO of Aramex; Ayaz Maqbool, managing director of Tejuri.com; and Adil Al Zarooni, the senior vice president of Jafza sales, was also part of the event proceedings. Panelists also highlighted Dubai's infrastructural readiness, but pointed out that regulations needed to be improved, especially at the GCC level, to give e-commerce a boost in the region.
Hachem said that a huge opportunity exists for Dubai in taking the lead because of its unique position of regional hub, while Maqbool highlighted the prominent role currently being played by Dubai, and lauded the efforts of the Dubai Department of Economic Development insupporting and helping promote electronic commerce locally. He said that banks need to come up with a faster turnaround times, easier processes, and cost-effective solutions to promote businesses to set up merchant accounts in order to be able to sell online.
The Mena region's offline retail market is worth 425 billion, with e-commerce spending at 9 billion in 2012. This figure is expected to grow to 15 billion by 2015. However, despite 47 per cent of the population having payment cards, cash and cheques are the most commonly used payment instruments, while 70 to 80 per cent of consumers use 'cash on delivery' as the preferred payment method for online shopping. A majority of the consumers cite lack of trust in payment options as the main reason for not using online payment methods, according to the latest statistics.
The Jafza Associates Forum brings together the Free Zone's key partners, such as foreign trading and promotion agencies, UAE government agencies and promoters, as well as consultants and service providers, who help promote Jafza products and services to targeted customers and industries. The annual event is part of Jafza's philosophy of staying abreast of market trends, and provides the Free Zone with the opportunity to discuss trade and industry developments with its key partners.
The forum was attended by Salma Ali Saif bin Hareb, CEO Jafza and Economic Zones World; Talal Al Hashemi, chief operating officer; Ibrahim al Janahi, deputy CEO and chief commercial officer Jafza and Economic Zones World; along with senior Jafza associates, prominent businessmen, and government officials.