Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Chinese tech moves into the Middle East

The Middle East's e-commerce fundamentals emerging far more like China's ecosystem than Silicon Valley's

 By Sam Blatteis


Chinese tech company Tencent just burst into the $500bn club this week, surpassing $531bn and becoming more valuable than Facebook. For those of us in the region, the timing is fascinating, coming at a time when Tencent’s subsidiary – e-commerce giant and Amazon rival – just sent its international president to the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s “Davos-in-the-desert” to explore the country’s $8bn e-commerce market.  Importantly, the timing comes as US President Trump seems to be adopting a de-facto “withdrawal doctrine” pulling America out of the Paris Climate Accord, re-negotiating NAFTA, and de-certifying the Iran nuclear deal. As these changes are taking place, Chinese premier Xi Jingping is attempting to reshape its relationship with Arab countries according to its new “march west” strategy, becoming the single largest foreign investor into the Middle East last year with $29.5bn in foreign direct investments.