Saudi Arabia: Online Shopping is Starting to Catch On


Many expats and Saudis alike in the Kingdom miss the ease and availability of using for their online shopping.  Amazon and other popular online shopping sites make it difficult to order online and have items shipped to the Kingdom without an Aramex account.

Finally there is a new online shopping site available for Saudis that is rapidly gaining in both growth and recognition.  This site is and is on its way to becoming the Amazon of the GCC, or at least for now, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

To begin with, Namshi offers an Arabic language option for its customs.  While its product base is smaller at the moment than Amazon it is increasing steadily.  Additionally, customers from Saudi Arabia can order online and have their purchases shipped to their Saudi address within seven to ten days.

Admittedly there are some challenges which still need to be worked out with the Namshi interface and Saudi living.  Many Saudis do not have a clear and recognizable address.  Even when having a package couriered to a residence it is necessary to provide directions, landmarks and a phone number.

Additionally many Saudis are still reticent to use a credit card online.  As a result, online shopping and subscriptions are coming slower to the Kingdom than other places.  But the tech savvy Saudi who also realizes he or she does not have to worry about the hassle of driving or finding a driver and fighting the traffic and crowds in the Kingdom is taking full advantage of Namshi’s offerings.  In fact, Saudi Arabia is Namshi’s largest market in the Arab world.

I did little online purchasing when I was in Saudi due to the lack of infrastructure and logistical challenges associated with receiving purchases.  As I left the Kingdom in 2009, I’d welcome hearing from American Bedu readers who are utilizing online shopping from within the Kingdom and what has been their experience.


9 Responses

  1. I buy on-line at and I am satisfied.

    that’s how I got the idea :

  2. Why do people in KSA “miss the ease and availability of using for their online shopping”? What has changed in the past few days since I had a bout of online retail therapy at

    Personally, I find that the ONLY issue in getting anything delivered to or within KSA is the general issue of a lack of defined street addressing acceptable to the various delivery services. NONE, except Saudi Post , will deliver to a PO Box address, and trying to describe an actual location in an acceptable way within a few addressing lines is an ‘interesting’ challenge to say the least.

    Invariably, I give courier services – my preferred method of delivery – a suitable vague address (compound name and ZIP code) along with a contact phone number that they will then call purely because it is NOT possible to decipher an actual location from the information given. From this phone call, delivery or collection by myself will be arranged.

    I’ve been having goods delivered to me in Saudi from all parts of the world for over 25 years, and the hardest part is always trying to get across to the vendor that ‘street addresses’ either do not exist or are not reliable enough for accurate and/or consistent delivery.

    It’s complicated, but delivery does work, and stuff rarely goes missing.

  3. I got a wasil mailbox and I was told that I can shop online from the U.S. and give them a local U.S. address provided by wasil and they will ship the item to Saudi for only 50 saudi riyals. I did not try it but I was assured that this is going to become the way Saudis will shop online. To get wasil mailbox you need to have an ordinary mailbox and then ask them to install wasil.

  4. Thanks for the info, Ray. Wasil sounds a lot like Aramex.

  5. I ordered through the Internet twice. I one was with Amazon, had to pick up @ Khobar’s main Post Office. The other one was delivered to my compound office.

  6. You were really lucky Rahma ordering through Amazon and having it delivered to the main post office!

    On Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 4:43 PM, American Bedu

  7. Really? I guess I won’t be doing that again then. Thanx Bedu!
    My friend got a box of sweets from a friend in Spain. I think she was lucky too as Layla of Blue Abaya never receives her.

  8. sadly the old fashioned pony express still remains the most reliable for packages to/from Saudi and the USA.

    On Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 5:13 AM, American Bedu

  9. shopping is the only entertainment in Saudi i don’t know why anyone would want to cut that too…..

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