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French Version

Internet Portal Tejari in Jordan

The runaway success of online market places such as eBay and Amazon is now something of an accepted triumph in Internet circles. It seems that Jordan has also caught on especially after King Abdallah’s call for a knowledge based economy in Jordan; the growth of a corporate online market place, Tejari, is set to revolutionize business in the Kingdom.

The concept of both Tejari and eBay has been to provide an online forum, or market place, in which buyers and sellers can see all of each other’s products, and prices, that are on offer. Tejari is a Dubai based firm that provides a web portal to its subscribers for this function across the Middle East. In an interview with The Star, the new CEO of Tejari, Omar Hijazi, himself a Lebanese returnee from the United States, sheds light on Tejari’s success.

With over 4,000 companies trading over Tejari and with transactions totaling well in excess of $1billion since 2000, the portal is primed for further expansion. In keeping with its specifically Arab business model the portal is now looking to North Africa, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Libya for its new round of growth. “What we aim to do is offer strategic procurement services that dramatically improve efficiency,” explained Mr Hijazi. “One of our target areas and also one that is most difficult to secure, is the public sector, whereby through a partnership such as that which we have with the Dubai Department of Health and Medical services, we can achieve dramatic cost savings for our clients,” he added. Tejari, which has operated in Jordan since late 2002, now boasts over 120 clients in the kingdom, including the Bank of Jordan and Jordan Telecom, has recently moved to providing services in Kuwait and Oman. “Our expansions are usually accomplished through gaining a major partner, or ‘Anchor company’, in the target country and bringing its immediate suppliers onto the e-procurement platform, then after bringing on a few other major companies the overlap sees the network of suppliers and procurers take on its own momentum for growth.’

One of Tejari’s earliest clients in Jordan was IDL, an independent software house in Jordan, which produces a range of off-the-shelf accounting and management programs. Their general manager, Hanna Zaghloul, commented, “Our entry into Tejari brought an immediate and knock-on increase in new sales of roughly 5 percent, although the overall effect has been very beneficial as a great deal of our customers are also subscribers.” Amongst their services, and one that takes it beyond the eBay analogy, is the “reverse-auction”. This allows consumers to tender their procurement requirements on Tejari, and for suppliers to then compete for the contract.

Jordan National Shipping Lines Co. (JNSLC), a Tejari subscriber since late 2003, is one such customer that recently tendered for its offices’ refurbishment. JNSLC Operations Manager, Capt. Farid Abdul-Jabbar, said that “using Tejari for our office purchases has given us very substantial savings in comparison to the past”. With suppliers from across the Gulf region seeking to undercut each other, this trend has raised issues over transportation as the new suppliers are often in a different country from the buyer. “Although our traditional focus has been on the procurement end of the ‘procurement-pay’ cycle, as we expand we are now looking into the logistics side of things also. Our recent experience in Kuwait, where we did the majority of the ground work for the delivery of goods from Dubai, has made us more favorable of having the logistics providers tender their offers on Tejari,” said Hijazi. “These, through a similar system to eBay’s ‘Seller Ratings’, could then become largely self-regulating and independent of Tejari.”

However, as Hijazi elucidated, the key to a knowledge based economy and the growth of e-commerce is the Internet. In comments that closely echoed the call from Zaghloul for increased Internet usage, Hijazi stated, “Central to the e-commerce sector is the acceptance of the Internet as a place of business and not just a reference tool. Online correspondence and agreements must be seen as binding as if they were written. This is something against which there is still considerable resistance and a crucial lack of trust, but the arrival of the younger generation which has had a much greater exposure to the Internet in management positions we hope will bring a dramatic turn around in this. To put this all in perspective, in the US roughly 10 percent of GDP is carried out over the Internet, with a world average of close to 5 percent. The Middle East’s average is somewhere between 1-2 percent; this is what we are looking to help change.”

The Star

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