Consumers in the UAE have one thing in common – they are looking for value, and they’re increasingly willing to buy from anywhere to find it.

Shoppers in the Emirates spend between $3.5bn and $4bn a year shopping online, and around a third of that (up to $1.5bn) is spent via sites outside the Emirates, Gulf News reports.

The reason is price, with goods generally 20% to 30% cheaper on overseas sites, depending on the product category. Even with shipping charges added, shopping overseas means big savings.

“Then there’s the availability factor,” said Sandeep Ganediwalla, managing partner at RedSeer Consultancy. “It would be weeks before the latest fashion collections or trending accessories get listed on local online portals or arrive at the physical stores. There’s a big consumer base in the UAE/Gulf that will not wait that long” he added.

The demand for goods from overseas has in turn now brought a fulfilment response from deliverers.

Emirates, the airline, announced this week it is launching a complete delivery service – Emirates Delivers – allowing customers to order from US shopping sites and then have the goods delivered to their homes.

The airline will take care of the whole delivery process, from a US warehouse to handing over the package at the customer’s home, promising a three to five-day turnaround.

The ‘Shop & Ship’ service from Aramex offers a similar service, as do services from several other companies.

Emirates sees potential for strong growth in the market, and says it will extend the service beyond Dubai in later rollouts – and then even further afield, including to Europe.

The multi-billion-dollar e-commerce spending numbers from the UAE are impressive and it’s hardly surprising logistics companies are keen to grab a slice of the action. Some 25-30% of orders are with sites outside the UAE, with the US being the number one choice. That amounts to a market worth between $1bn and $1.5bn.

A study by PayPal published last year found 61% of UAE online shoppers had bought from websites in other countries during the previous 12 months.

Local online websites, though, are also responding. offers users ‘Amazon Global Store’ access, where a shopper can easily search, and buy, from any Amazon-operated site around the world. And Amazon Prime offers deliveries from the US within six to nine business days.

Sourced from Gulf News; additional content by WARC staff