UAE consumers are increasingly making purchases online, with e-commerce sales nearly doubling in 2021 compared to a year ago.

The country's total e-commerce sales reached $4.8 billion in 2021, up by 84% from $2.6 billion in 2019, according to a new report by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce which is based on data from Euromonitor International.

As more consumers are opting for online transactions, the UAE e-commerce is forecast to reach $9.2 billion in value by 2026. E-commerce's share of UAE's retail sales is also expected to reach 12.6% of total market sales by 2026, the report said.

In 2021, e-commerce websites accounted for the majority (73%) of retail sales.


Most shoppers rely on mobile devices for purchases, with smartphones and tablets accounting for a majority of e-commerce transactions last year.

Mobile retail sales alone are projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15.6% over the 2022-2026 period to reach $4.6 billion.

Dubai Chamber's study showed that consumers in the UAE tend to shop more with their mobile device compared to their global peers. At least once a week, more than a third of UAE shoppers purchase a product or service using their smartphone, which is above the global average.

The availability of apps and the growing number of loyalty rewards programmes are supporting this trend, the Dubai Chamber said.

The e-commerce sector is also attracting investments from global companies, and this is helping the digital payments landscape develop further.

"The improvement and modernisation of payment systems and services [are] identified as another key factor [boosting] demand and business activity within the UAE's ecommerce sector," the report said.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)