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Gulf to see a surge in ‘super apps’ in 2023, says Kuwaiti retailer

Super apps Careem
Super apps are increasing their presence across the Gulf region through firms such as Careem

The future of the Gulf’s digital service economy lies in the creation of increasingly popular super apps, according to Tarek Sakr, CEO of Kuwait-based e-commerce and classifieds platform 4Sale.

As technology continues to revolutionise the retail industry, building on the rapid shift to e-commerce during the coronavirus pandemic, in an exclusive column for AGBI, Sakr said the demand for digital products and services will be driven by customer convenience.

That bears promise for super apps, which have been popular in Asia for some time, but are increasing their presence across the Gulf region through firms such as Careem, Revolut and Spotify.

Sakr said: “One class of technology business set to take off over the coming 12 months is the ‘super app’.

“A genuine innovation of the Far East’s burgeoning tech economy rising to prominence in recent years, super apps are the logical next step for Mena’s maturing digital service economy. In particular, the classifieds market has been continuously moving towards the super app business model.

“Ambitious classifieds businesses want to help you search, buy, finance, maintain, inspect, and insure products and services – and everything in between.”

The UAE online retail sector will be valued at $8 billion by 2025, up from $5 billion in 2021 and $2.7 billion in 2020, according to a report published in March by e-commerce hub EZDubai and global research firm Euromonitor International.

At the same time, a survey published in January by San Francisco-based digital advertising services firm AppsFlyer found that 84 percent of UAE businesses surveyed said mobile apps are now a ‘must’ to remain relevant to their customers.

Such apps spent $74 million last year on marketing costs to convince users to download their apps, a year-on-year increase of 35 percent.

Earlier this year Uber-owned app ride-hailing firm Careem bought the assets of Dubai-based money transfer platform Denarii, which was added to its super app, allowing customers and Captains (people who work with the company) to connect with remittance services.

Read Tarek Sakr’s column.

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