Raziqueh Hussein
Last updated: 10 May, 2013

Geeky, chic and online fun from Dubai

Geeks and tech aficionados worldwide have a hankering for quirky products. Now, a new Dubai start-up is bringing these novel products to an online platform with global reach and shipping.

For a long time now, Dubai has been touted as a shopper’s paradise, attracting consumers from all over the world. From glossy malls to the online environment, the UAE has led the way for e-Commerce spend in the GCC by accounting for almost 60 per cent of the region’s total sales, a new quarterly overview of the burgeoning e-Commerce market across the GCC shows.

Still, this part of the world is far from saturated when it comes to digital sales. A group of people recently realised that what they were looking for wasn’t out there; they wanted quirky and fun products easily available online. The result is Wamli.

Wamli.com, a Dubai based start-up, has launched the new Beta 2.0 version of its online social hub for shoppers and collectors to source design oriented items from around the world. So has Dubai opened up to online shopping, moving away from the dominant mall culture?

“This is happening slowly, but surely. We have customers from all over the world, from the USA, UK, Japan, Australia and many more countries. But Dubai is definitely home to our biggest customer base at the moment,” says Rabih Ghandour, CEO, Wamli.com.  

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On one level, Wamli is a hub for quirky and fun products that first launched on 12/12/12. But its true charm lies on the social side; it offers a loyalty and rewards programme, its own virtual economy, a ranking system, and the ability to earn spendable points every time one buys, shares or browses.

”What differentiates Wamli from other e-commerce platforms, and what makes it disruptive to others, is that it isn’t merely an e-commerce platform. It’s a social e-commerce platform with its own currency, an exclusive loyalty programme, among other things. Wamli is an experience, not a destination. We don’t want our customers to only shop. We want them to browse-shop-play,” adds Rabih who is also excited that #DayWithWamli was a countrywide trending topic for 3 hours on #Twitter.

Products available here range from the practical to the fun, with gift items such as stools, football tables and figurines rubbing shoulders with cleverly designed tech products. The Crazy-Funky-Cool category pays homage to Wamli.com’s geek chic roots. Ask Rabih to choose his favourite product and he’s quick to respond, “This is a tough one. It’s almost like asking a parent to pick a favourite child! However, if you were to twist my arm and ask me, I’d say my favourite is the NeoGeoX console. What can I say: I have a weakness for nostalgia!”

An increase in e-commerce websites pushes consumers to put their trust in online shopping. One of the biggest barriers for e-commerce ventures in the UAE is the lack of trust in putting credit card details online. With more and more trustworthy players entering the market, this customer inhibition is being tackled.