Arabic eCommerce Localization: Conquering the Gulf Region



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The Gulf region continues to emerge as a booming hub for online retail, with the UAE leading the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in eCommerce. 

However, while this presents a golden age of eCommerce growth in the UAE, capitalizing on this growth also comes with its own set of challenges. 

The Arab culture is unique and has its own set of values, beliefs, traditions, and social norms that can significantly impact business practices and consumer behavior.

And that is why you need the transformative power of Arabic localization. 

Implementing a robust Arabic eCommerce localization strategy that takes into account the unique cultural characteristics of the UAE empowers you to offer a personalized online shopping experience that resonates with Arab consumers.

Let us dive deeper into the lucrative world of the UAE eCommerce market, find out why it is such an attractive opportunity for businesses and how you can harness the power of Arabic localization.

Ready to get started?

Global eCommerce Industry Blossoming: A Quick 2022/2023 Recap

Covid-19 has caused a rapid shift in consumers’ behavior toward online shopping. With physical stores closing down and people practicing social distancing measures, online shopping emerged as a safer and more convenient option for consumers to purchase goods and services. 

But while the pandemic is over, what initially appeared as a temporary change is now becoming a permanent shift.

According to a survey fielded by Euromonitor International, 74% of global retail and consumer brand professionals believe that the pandemic-fueled increase in online shopping is likely to become a lasting trend. 

And this is something that also latest market data points to, expecting eCommerce to continue growing substantially in the coming years. 

According to Statista, here are some highlights:

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So what do we get from all of this? 

If there is one key takeaway we get from this compelling data, it is that businesses seeking success in the global eCommerce marketplace need and have to adapt to the changing eCommerce landscape. 

And as global competition intensifies, businesses must remain agile and innovative while meeting the evolving needs of customers in the post-pandemic era.

But while doing so, they have to consider the diverse cultural and linguistic needs of global customers worldwide. 

Services like Website localization and eCommerce website localization are becoming so high in demand now as more businesses start to understand the powerful impact of localization in resonating with multilingual customers linguistically and culturally.

UAE eCommerce Market Overlook

According to The International Trade Administration, the UAE’s eCommerce market grew by 53% in 2020, with a record of $3.9 billion in eCommerce sales.

And with almost every single person in the UAE having internet and mobile phone access, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce And Industry forecasts that eCommerce will skyrocket to a remarkable $8 billion in sales by 2025. 

But, what about the UAE’s customer base? In order to conquer new markets, you should have a deep insight into your target audiences. 

UAE markets are constituted by a vast base of young, mobile-savvy consumers that actively seek eCommerce solutions that cater to their needs. The average online Arab customers are proactive, technology early birds that feed the demand for online purchasing.

Here are some key data you should know if you’re interested in expanding your eCommerce business to the UAE promising markets:

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Leading e-commerce segments in the United Arab Emirates in 2023 by market share

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Distribution of payment methods for e-commerce transactions in the United Arab Emirates in 2023

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Arabic eCommerce Localization Is a Window of Opportunities

Now that we’ve established the potential the UAE eCommerce market holds, it is time to talk about why success in the region is closely linked to effective eCommerce localization services and most importantly, Arabic website localization.

According to CSA Research, here are some interesting facts about eCommerce localization:

76% of online shoppers are more likely to purchase a product if the information is written in their native language or at local-language websites

65% of online customers who are proficient in English still prefer to read online content in their native languages.

40% won’t even buy from websites in other languages.

56.2% said they prefer local-language content over price.

64% of eCommerce users deeply value localized content and 56% of them prioritize being able to read the product information in their native language, even over price.

Your foreign prospects won’t turn into customers if they can’t understand your content.

And your Arab audience is no exception.

Speaking your audience’s language is the key to building trust and brand loyalty and growing your conversion rates. That’s why Arabic eCommerce Localization is of utmost importance.

5 Arabic eCommerce Localization Best Practices

In one of our recent posts, we took a deep dive into Arabic Website Best Practices. Below we give you an overview of our top best practices to make it in the Gulf region. 

As you may know, Arabic (like most languages) is divided into many different dialects. The most reliable choice in Arabic website localization projects is Modern Standard Arabic.

Nevertheless, keep in mind that solid digital marketing strategies never consider regions such as the Middle East as a whole. The proper criteria are always to target specific regions. A reliable translation company can provide you with seasoned native translators who are able to decide on the right dialect that resonates with its speakers for maximum accuracy and impact.

There are around 25-30 Arabic dialects. While some of these dialects aren’t very different (but still mutually intelligible), others can be more so. They can be too different from one another and mutually unintelligible.

In terms of vocabulary, for instance, the word “very” in Egypt is “اوي”; in Tunisia “برشا”; in Libya “هلبه”; and in the UAE “وايد”.

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However, the variations between dialects aren’t only in terms of vocabulary and pronunciation, but also grammar and structure.

The UAE eCommerce Market: Fact Sheet

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a. Grammar

Arabic has a complex grammar system, with rules for verb conjugation, noun declension, and sentence structure which can be quite confusing for non-native translators.

Arabic has a special dual form for nouns and verbs, which is used to indicate two of something such as two people, two animals, or two objects. For example, the word “kitab” “كتاب” means “book” in the singular form, while the word “kutub” “كتب” means “books” in the plural form.

However, the word “kitaban” “ كتابان” means “two books” in the dual form.

That’s why Arabic translation requires a deep understanding of the language to accurately convey meaning. Translators must be proficient in the grammar rules of both the source and target languages to ensure accurate and natural-sounding translations. 


b. Right-To-Left Text Direction

Arabic has a right-to-left (RTL) writing system, where words are written in horizontal lines that go from right to left.

Accordingly, during your website language localization process in Arabic, you’ll need a DTP and design team to adapt your UI layout and design to accommodate Arabic, while mirroring the original layout. 

An accurate website translation and localization and Arabic DTP solutions will get your website to look, feel and function like originally Arabic web pages would.


c. Idioms & Expressions

Arabic is a language rich in idioms and expressions, which are often deeply rooted in the culture and history of the Arabic-speaking world and are used to convey a particular message or feeling in a concise and memorable way.

Therefore, it can be challenging to translate accurately by non-native translators who lack cultural depth.

Since idioms often carry a figurative or metaphorical meaning that may not be immediately apparent, it requires a deep understanding of the cultural context to accurately translate them.

Let us give you an example. 

An idiomatic expression like “faar damm-ii” “ فار دمي”  in Arabic translates literally as “My blood boiled” but Idiomatically, it means “I became furious” or “boiled with rage.”

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First things first. When adapting your marketing content to foreign countries, understanding what communicating with a different culture implies is crucial.

Thinking about adapting your website, marketing, and social content to the Gulf region, for instance? Well, you’ll have to adapt symbolisms, humor, metaphors, date and time formats, currency, and, of course, customer representation.

Here, a UAE-based translation company is the best choice.

As locals, they will truly understand how to adapt all your online and offline content to better represent the interest of your MENA consumers. 

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Arabic has a unique script that requires specific fonts to ensure legibility and readability.

In the Arabic language, fonts are designed with specific features, such as ligatures, diacritics, and context-based letterforms.

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Finding a font that is compatible with the unique characteristics of Arabic script is fundamental in your Arabic eCommerce localization project. That’s because rethinking how fonts are displayed throughout the website surely ensures a fluid and immersive UI and helps you to avoid readability issues.

For instance, if you use bold and italics for highlighting information, the design will need to be adapted so other elements serve that hierarchy-creating function because Arabic doesn’t have these styles.

According to a 2021 Mckinsey survey, 58% of Middle Eastern users prefer digital payment methods and 10% prefer cash, which speaks volumes of the region’s dramatic shift to adopting digital payment gateways after the stubborn dependency on cash.

This a promising finding for brands and businesses that are willing to explore the MENA region.

eCommerce websites often use third-party services to process online payments. And for your Arab consumers, Arabic eCommerce localization should tailor these integrations to their preferences.

In UAE, for instance, Amazon Payment Services, 2checkout, and PayTabs are among the most preferred payment gateways.  

Yet, your eCommerce localization strategy should also take into account: the cash on delivery choice, because some  MENA countries might still strongly prefer to use cash. As of March 2023, 50% of online purchases made by Egyptian consumers were done with cash.

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One more thing that Arabic eCommerce localization services take care of is displaying prices in local currencies to avoid mistakes or misleading information that can compromise your customer’s purchase.

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Get a UAE-Based Localization Company by Your Side

Nowadays, a strong online presence makes a strong business. A solid website with a flawless UI and social channels with hyper-personalized tailored content are two of the most important marketing assets you can have.

Arabic eCommerce localization can seem daunting, for sure. But the good news is you don’t have to face it on your own.

At bayantech, our highly trained native translators and localization experts work with specialized project managers, implementing cutting-edge translation tools, and following ISO-certified processes to ensure Arabic eCommerce localization best practices.

We’re a leading language company in Dubai and the UAE. With almost 2 decades of experience, we carry out high-quality end-to-end Arabic eCommerce localization projects for leading brands worldwide. Whether it’s using a website translation proxy or redefining your CMS workflow, we’re here for you.

Contact us today or get a free quote now to kick-start your Arabic eCommerce localization project.

Conquer the UAE markets; Localize your eCommerce Platform Today.

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