Blog Post

The Rise of Collaborative Consumption in The Arab World

June 26, 2013

By Ahmad Sufian Bayram

3 min

Arab countries are no different than other nations. There are now three popular ideas on the collaborative consumption in the Arab World comparable to what is going on around the world’s consumer markets:

Firstly, there is an ongoing paradigm shift in what it means to own a car, a bicycle, a household appliance, a book, a film or a piece of clothing. The value of a product is beginning to be seen regarding its use, not in its outright ownership, as per traditional consumer models. Secondly, there is an increased level of acceptance of used products, thanks partly to the popularity of online platforms for buying and selling used goods. And finally, people are also adopting what could be called collaborative lifestyles, in which not only sharing products but people share their time, space and expertise as well.

In the book What’s Mine Is Yours, Rachel Botsman argues that:

“There are four factors needed for a successful business model based on collaborative consumption: sufficient critical mass, available capacity, belief in the commons, and trust and credibility between strangers”

All of these are present to varying degrees in developing markets such as the Arab Countries, which are collaborative consumption giants in the making. The only unknown is the speed with which collaborative consumption in the Arab World services will emerge and be taken up as an alternative to traditional hyper-consumption.

Any companies operating in developing markets will need to understand and plan for the potential impact of these services, and consider how to redefine their services to reflect the growing demand for frequent access to assets.

Many Arab online Groups have achieved significant success by harnessing the ability of social media to create social connections and credibility in redistribution market; used or pre-owned goods are moved from somewhere they are not needed to somewhere they are in some markets, the products may be free, which take the form of charity and donation work.

In others, the products are swapped (Swaphood ) or sold for cash (krakeebegypt, Sham Market). People in Arab countries with similar needs or interests band together to share and exchange tangible assets like Electricity generators that enable companies to offer this product as a service rather than sell it as a product.

And we can make another example In collaborative lifestyle when we share a taxi, with strangers to reduce cost instead of getting a taxi alone and buy more, also the need of finding a cab faster and decrease the traffic in the city.

Nowadays we can see services like Wasselni that helps people find others to carpool with across the region which also intends to start in the major cities like Cairo and Amman. And less-tangible assets such space (Arabrooms; Jeddah-based company launched to provide economy lodging and furnished short-term lease apartments in Saudi Arabia)

Since regulations in the collaborative consumption in the Arab World space will probably be vary across different countries, this could be a significant barrier to swift internationalization or regionalization, but it’s only matter of time. And it will be a reinvention of business models in various sectors as a result of the disruptive influence of collaborative consumption.


photo credit: Jonathan McIntosh

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