Amazon.com has agreed to buy Middle East online retailer Souq.com, thwarting a last minute bid by Dubai billionaire Mohamed Alabbar’s Emaar Malls . The value and terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition is expected to close in 2017, according to a joint statement on Tuesday. Reuters reported last week that Amazon had agreed in principle to buy Souq.com, which was founded 12 years ago by Syrian-born entrepreneur Ronaldo Mouchawar. Amazon is paying less than Emaar’s offer of $800 million, sources said, making it lower than the $1 billion valuation at the time of Souq.com’s funding round last year.
The deal appeared to get the endorsement of the Dubai government which is increasingly focusing on technology.
Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum said Amazon’s entry into the region showed “Dubai’s position as a regional and global hub for the world’s biggest and leading organisations.”
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Dubai is a global trade, transport and tourism hub, hosting regional headquarters for many multinational firms. “By becoming part of the Amazon family, we’ll be able to vastly expand our delivery capabilities and customer selection much faster, as well as continue Amazon’s great track record of empowering sellers,” Souq.com Co-Founder Ronaldo Mouchawar said in the statement.
The Emar offer was not the first online move to be made by Alabbar, who made his name as chairman of Emaar Properties , the Dubai government-linked developer of the world’s tallest building. Emaar Malls is the retail unit of Emaar Properties.
Alabbar announced last year he plans to launch his own e-commerce firm Noon in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).