Noon.com, the $1bn e-commerce site founded by Dubai billionaire Mohamed Alabbar, has quietly come online several months after its original opening date.
The unexpected launch comes only days after the site confirmed it was on track to begin operations later this year after announcing an investment from Kuwait-based retailer MH Alshaya.
It also follows months of speculation after many of the original team members behind the venture departed, including previous CEO Fodhil Benturquia, months after it missed its original January opening date.
Faraz Khalid, the co-founder of regional fashion site Namshi, was appointed the company’s new CEO in July.
Noon.com officially came online to serve UAE customers on September 30 and is expected to go live in Saudi Arabia in the coming weeks.
The initial product lineup includes electronics, fashion, homeware, beauty and baby categories but appears someway short of the 20 million items promised last year.
“Today, we are excited to deliver orders to our first customers. We are proud to take this important first step in our journey, and we are committed to making Noon the region’s Arabic-first e-commerce platform,” said Alabbar.
Noon.com was originally promised to shake-up the regional e-commerce market after its unveiling in November 2016 with the backing of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
Since then, US giant Amazon has entered the market through its estimated $650m acquisition of current Middle East and North Africa market leader Souq.com and the two appear set to battle for market share.
Consultancy A.T. Kearney estimates the GCC will become one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in the world in the coming years and could be worth $20bn by 2020.