An estimated $51 billion of e-commerce sales were registered across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) in 2017, according to new research.
The report, launched by Dubai CommerCity, the joint project between the Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (DAFZA) and wasl Asset Management Group, said this accounts for only 3 percent of the global e-commerce sales.
It added that the region's e-commerce sector is expected to grow aggressively at 24.6 percent through to 2020, faster than any region in the world.
According to the report, South Asia represents the biggest market in size, while the Gulf represents the fastest growing and highest spending market in the region.
India stands out as the biggest, most mature e-commerce market with US$39 billion in estimated e-commerce sales in 2017 while the UAE represents the biggest spending per online shoppers at $1,648 per person, with the third highest growth projected through 2020 at 29.6 percent.
The report identified seven key growth drivers that include huge latent demand, high internet/ mobile adoption, a young, internet savvy population, high social media usage, cross-border e-commerce, entrepreneurship and growing government support.
It added that an estimated 16 percent of MENASA internet users, approximately 115 million people, are online shoppers compared to 40 percent of global internet users.
The report also highlighted five key challenges that can be attributed to limited e-commerce penetration when compared to the rest of the world including a lack of consumer awareness, limited payment solutions, logistic challenges, customs duties and taxation and limited product coverage.
The report also presents a first listing of top 100 B2C e-commerce companies of MENASA region. Turkey has the most e-commerce companies on the list with 24 companies represented, followed by India (12) and UAE (11).
Dubai CommerCity is being developed in Umm Ramool area, which represents 2.1-million square feet at a cost of AED2.7 billion and aims to strengthen Dubai's presence as a main centre of global e-commerce, establishing zones that support economic diversification and smart transformation, through attracting direct foreign investments in the sector.
DAFZA had recently announced increasing the investment value in Dubai CommerCity by 18.5 percent, to around AED3.2 billion.
Dubai CommerCity is divided into three clusters - the Business Cluster, the Logistic Cluster and the Social Cluster.