Souq

Souq.com (Amazon.ae)

From pitching ecommerce platform business proposals in front of unconvinced retailers, to building the largest online shopping platform in the Arab World and selling it to Amazon, Ronaldo Mouchawar’s Souq.com is one of Dubai’s startup economy champions.

In 2005, Mouchawar, a Syrian entrepreneur relocated to Dubai looking for a gap in the market to pursue his dream, and build an online marketplace for the region like Amazon and eBay in the US, and China’s Alibaba. 

The risks were countless, given that online shopping culture was virtually nonexistent in the Middle East, but at the same time, the region desperately needed such a platform, and Mouchawar’s confidence stemmed from Dubai’s growing digital economy and business-friendly environment, well-equipping him to spearhead the e-commerce movement. 

The early start was founding Souq.com in 2005 as an auction site linked to Maktoob. Four years later, Yahoo acquired Maktoob, and in 2011 Souq.com business model was switched to become an online marketplace. 

By 2014, the company raised $75 million from existing investors, and in 2016, it announced receiving $275 million of funding, with a valuation above $1 billion, making it the region's first unicorn. 

In 2017, Souq.com was acquired by Amazon for $580 million in cash. In 2019, the internet retailer Souq.com officially became Amazon.ae. 

The journey of Souq.com and its growth from a 5-employee startup to more than 3,000 employees regionally, providing e-commerce services to over 135 million people, has been incubated in Dubai’s innovative and forward-thinking investment ecosystem. 

Amazon.ae is another example that, in Dubai, humble ventures are most likely to transform into big achievements, inspiring thousands of startups to turn their creative ideas into realities and beyond. 

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