Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale and e-commerce payments reach $206bn in 2023

Saudi Arabia stands out as a prime market for e-commerce expansion, fueled by its burgeoning digital economy and tech-savvy population. (SPA)
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Updated 10 February 2024

Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale and e-commerce payments reach $206bn in 2023

  • Trend emphasizes crucial role technology plays in driving transformative shift in consumer transactions landscape

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia continued to embrace digital advancements in 2023, as both traditional point-of-sale systems and the e-commerce sector saw annual growth of 13 percent.

The latest data release by the Kingdom’s central bank, also known as SAMA, showed the total value of e-commerce sales using Mada cards and point-of-sale transactions amounted to SR770.87 billion ($205.55 billion). 

This total excludes transactions made through Visa, Mastercard, and other credit cards.

This trend emphasizes the crucial role that technology is playing in driving a transformative shift in the landscape of consumer transactions in Saudi Arabia. 

This is characterized by a rapid increase in the adoption of electronic payment methods and the seamless integration of technology into retail environments.

The heightened demand for e-commerce contributed to a notable 28 percent increase in sales, reaching SR157 billion, accompanied by a 43 percent surge in transaction volume.

On the other hand, POS transactions, comprising the largest share, experienced a growth of 9.8 percent, reaching a total of SR614 billion.

As per information from, Saudi Arabia stands out as a prime market for e-commerce expansion, fueled by its burgeoning digital economy and tech-savvy population.

Boasting an approximate population of nearly 36 million people, the country offers a substantial customer base with a notable penchant for online shopping. The government’s commitment to digital transformation, coupled with initiatives aligned with Vision 2030, further enhances its allure for e-commerce ventures, the Saudi guide added. 


The heightened demand for e-commerce contributed to a notable 28 percent increase in sales, reaching SR157 billion, accompanied by a 43 percent surge in transaction volume.

Factors boosting e-commerce sites are high internet penetration, with over 90 percent of the Kingdom’s residents connected to the web; a growing, affluent population; and increasing awareness of online shopping benefits such as convenience and lower prices, the company added.

Additionally, there is a shift from cash on delivery to online payments in line with Vision 2030 goals, which expects 70 percent of transactions to be cashless.

The evident shift towards digitalization is further highlighted by a significant trend of branch closures for the fourth consecutive year. In 2023 alone, 26 branches were shut, with a notable concentration in Makkah and the Eastern Province, according to the latest data from the central bank.

Additionally, the closure of 297 ATMs accompanied the issuance of 5.2 million cards, underlining a transition from traditional banking methods to a more digitized approach.

There has also been a decline in cash withdrawals through banks and Mada cards by 2.43 percent and 0.20 percent respectively, signaling a growing reliance on digital payment methods and a reduction in traditional cash transactions.

As for POS payments, beverages and food, restaurants and cafes constituted the highest share of Saudi spending at 16 percent and 15 percent respectively.

The highest growth however is witnessed in public utilities, with POS sales surging by almost 29 percent to reach SR5.67 billion.

The digitization of utility payments in Saudi Arabia is swiftly advancing with the support of the Digital Government Authority, established on March 9, 2021, to oversee all digital government activities in the country.

Its primary objective is to cultivate a proactive digital government that delivers efficient services and fosters integration among state entities. 

Through the utilization of technology, digital government initiatives aim to enhance data access and service delivery, emphasizing the implementation of information technologies, systems, and platforms to facilitate easier access to government services while upholding standards of quality and security.

Furthermore, spending on hotels saw an increase of 19 percent to reach SR14.69 billion. Spending on transportation and education followed in terms of achieved growth rates to reach SR35.3 billion and SR9.67 billion respectively.

Riyadh city stood at the epicenter of 33 percent of these transactions, amounting to SR200.37 billion, with Jeddah following closely at SR87.82 billion. Notably, Riyadh and Makkah experienced the highest growth in POS sales among Saudi Arabia’s major cities, at 16 percent each.

Riyadh also saw a remarkable increase in POS terminals, registering 35 percent, surpassing all other cities.

Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom has actively pursued the relocation of foreign businesses’ regional headquarters to Riyadh and encouraged increased investment in the nation. The capital’s attractiveness to foreigners is bolstered by ongoing social developments, contributing to its economic growth.

The liberalization of the social landscape has also created new investment opportunities, particularly in leisure and hospitality sectors, further boosting Riyadh’s economy.

Additionally, the Saudi capital secured the hosting rights for the 2030 World Expo, winning over Rome and Busan, demonstrating its commitment to shaping a prosperous and sustainable future and anticipating a significant influx of visitors.

In Makkah, local developers are poised to invest SR2.5 billion through a partnership between Umm Al-Qura for Development and Construction Co. and the Kingdom’s General Authority of Awqaf.

This collaboration, through an agreement signed during the Hajj and Umrah Services Conference and Exhibition in January 2024, aims to create a unique hospitality project in Makkah.

Saudi Arabia introduces clean diesel and gasoline fuels in Kingdom’s market

Updated 27 February 2024

Saudi Arabia introduces clean diesel and gasoline fuels in Kingdom’s market

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s sustainability drive is gaining momentum with the Ministry of Energy announcing the launch of clean diesel and Euro-5 compliant gasoline in the Kingdom’s market. 

According to a Saudi Press Agency report, these newly introduced fuels offer lower emissions than traditional diesel and gasoline.

Like their predecessors, these energy sources are suitable for all means of transportation, and are also expected to contribute to preserving the environment and achieving the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, the report added. 

Euro-5 is a standard set by the EU to regulate the emissions of vehicles. 

Saudi Arabia is leading the Middle East and North Africa region in sustainable efforts through various undertakings, including the Saudi Green Initiative. 

The Ministry of Energy said that the introduction of these two fuels comes as part of the Kingdom’s efforts to reduce emissions and reach net zero in 2060 through the application of the circular carbon economy approach. 

The report added that the launch of these resources would encourage car manufacturers to introduce the latest energy-efficient vehicle technologies to the Kingdom. 

In January, multi-project developer Red Sea Global announced that it has become the first company in Saudi Arabia to use low-carbon biofuel in all its delivery trucks.

In a press statement, RSG revealed that the entire fleet of land vehicles is now powered by electricity or biofuel. 

The biofuel is produced from used cooking oil sourced within Saudi Arabia. The type of fuel RSG has adopted emits only 0.17 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per liter, compared with 2.7kg CO2e per liter from regular diesel usage.

Johnson & Johnson MedTech begins direct operations in Saudi Arabia 

Updated 27 February 2024

Johnson & Johnson MedTech begins direct operations in Saudi Arabia 

RIYADH: Saudi healthcare is poised to benefit from advanced medical interventions after Johnson & Johnson’s technology firm, J&J MedTech KSA, announced the launching of its direct operations in the Kingdom.  

The company provides high-tech medical and surgical equipment and aims to bring customers closer to a more streamlined experience, according to a statement.   

This move not only aligns with the firm’s commitment to enhancing medical interventions and improving clinical outcomes but also reflects the company’s ongoing investment in the future of Saudi healthcare, it added.   

Marzena Kulis, managing director of Johnson & Johnson MedTech for Middle East & Africa, said: “We remain deeply vested in Saudi Arabia and in contributing to the Vision 2030 to support in developing the healthcare sector, driving economic growth, nurturing local talent, and fostering innovation.”    

She added: “As an entity, Johnson & Johnson has been present in Saudi Arabia for nearly 40 years, putting the needs of patients, families, physicians, and nurses first, and functioning as advocates for the health of the Saudi community.”   

The senior executive added that as the company transitions into this new direct model, its esteemed partners will have fewer obstacles in providing the best care for their patients.

Moreover, Trad Al-Khelaiwi general manager of J&J MedTech KSA, highlighted: “As a company that is dedicated to fostering local talent, our direct operations are also aimed at creating more opportunities within the Kingdom and supporting the government’s Saudization efforts.”

He added: “In fact, since the start of the project, we’ve made 76 new hires — with our priority and majority being KSA nationals.” 

Furthermore, Al-Khelaiwi emphasized that this transformative shift would bring the customers closer to Johnson & Johnson’s quality standards and help develop the local healthcare market with international know-how.

“By taking this bold step, we are not only embracing the health goals of Vision 2030 and aligning with the National Health Transformation Program but also spotlighting the immense potential of local talent in driving innovation and progress,” Transformation Director at Johnson & Johnson MedTech Peter Lane underscored. 

In November 2022, Johnson & Johnson announced providing digital solutions that will shorten the time patients spend in hospitals.  

According to Marzena Kulis, managing director of Johnson & Johnson MedTech Middle East, the move was crucial in countries with lower bed capacity.  

“The digital solutions that we currently offer help to shorten the time of patients’ stay, so the capacity can absorb more patients, especially in the geographies where capacity is limited,” Kulis said in an exclusive interview with Arab News at the time.

Demand for fossil fuels not likely to diminish anytime soon: Saudi energy minister

Updated 27 February 2024

Demand for fossil fuels not likely to diminish anytime soon: Saudi energy minister


RIYADH: Saudi Arabia aspires to become one of the largest producers and exporters of clean energy, said Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.

In an interview with the quarterly bulletin issued by the Saudi Association for Energy Economics, the minister said the Kingdom is capable of producing green and clean hydrogen at competitive prices.

Prince Abdulaziz said the Kingdom is focussing on all energy sources including solar, wind and green hydrogen as well as nuclear and geothermal.

This will help the Kingdom to reduce the consumption of liquid fuels in generating electricity and reaching the optimal energy mix, he added.

The minister cited the establishment of the largest green hydrogen production plant in NEOM as an example. The plant will have an annual production capacity of 250,000 tonnes by 2026.

Talking about the fluctuations in the oil market, he said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has mechanisms in place to deal with global crude market challenges.

Despite highlighting Saudi Arabia’s energy transition plans, Prince Abdulaziz said the need for fossil fuels, especially oil and gas, will continue for decades as also indicated by several industry reports.

The minister added that Saudi Arabia is working to reduce carbon emissions, and that it has a program to replace liquid fuels.

He explained that the program aims to run industrial facilities to rely on natural gas or alternative fuels as well as building renewable energy sources.

Furthermore, Prince Abdulaziz highlighted how Saudi Arabia has quadrupled its current renewable energy capacity from 700 megawatts to 2,800 MW by the end of 2023, with more than 800 MW of renewable energy sources still under implementation and about 1,300 MW in various stages of development. On top of that, the Kingdom plans to produce 200 additional MW this year.

The energy minister also revealed that work is underway to build one of the largest projects to capture, transport, and store carbon dioxide with an annual capacity of up to 9 million tonnes by 2030 and 44 million tons annually by 2035.

He reiterated the Kingdom’s goal to reduce emissions to 278 million tonnes annually by 2030.

Closing Bell: Saudi main index rebounds to close at 12,602

Updated 27 February 2024

Closing Bell: Saudi main index rebounds to close at 12,602

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index bounced back on Tuesday after recording declines on two days.

The benchmark index gained 69.79 points to close at 12,601.55 with an overall trading value of SR7.31 billion ($1.95 billion), with 169 stocks advancing and 52 declining. 

The Kingdom’s parallel market, Nomu, also gained 661.67 points to close at 26,254.28 and the MSCI Tadawul Index also edged up by 0.68 percent to 1,627.71. 

The best-performing stock of the day was Middle East Pharmaceutical Industries Co., also known as Avalon Pharma, which debuted on the main market on Tuesday. The company’s share price soared by 30 percent to SR106.60. 

Other top performers were Saudi Steel Pipe Co. and Batic Investments and Logistics Co., whose share prices surged by 9.93 percent and 9.87 percent, respectively. 

The worst performer of the day was Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co., as its share price slipped by 5.24 percent to SR29.85. 

On the announcements front, Arabian Centers Co., also known as Cenomi Centers, said that its board of directors approved issuing dollar-denominated sukuk under its international sukuk program. 

In a Tadawul statement, Cenomi Centers revealed that the amount and the terms of offerings will be announced later, depending on the market conditions. 

The lifestyle center operator added that the sukuk issuance is subject to the approval of the relevant regulatory authorities. 

Meanwhile, National Medical Care Co. revealed that it witnessed a net profit rise of 42 percent in 2023 to SR240.9 million compared to the previous year. 

The medical service provider said the rise in net profit was driven by higher revenue, gross profit, and interest income, along with lower sales costs and zakat charges. 

National Medical Care Co. added that the net profit for the fourth quarter of 2023 also witnessed a surge of 15 percent to SR63.5 million compared to the same period in 2022. 

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. also revealed its financial results for 2023 on Tuesday. 

The company, also known as SABIC, reported a net loss of SR2.58 billion in 2023, compared to a net profit of SR16.5 billion in 2022. 

In a statement to Tadawul, the company attributed the accumulation of losses to a decline in revenue due to a decrease in average selling prices and sales volumes. 

Aramco signs procurement agreements worth $6bn to enhance local supply chain

Updated 27 February 2024

Aramco signs procurement agreements worth $6bn to enhance local supply chain

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco’s domestic supply chain is poised for further improvement as it signed procurement agreements worth $6 billion with suppliers in the Kingdom. 

According to a press statement, these 40 procurement agreements were inked as a part of the company’s strategic localization program and are expected to strengthen the firm’s supply chain ecosystem and contribute to the development of the energy services sector in Saudi Arabia. 

The deals will also provide suppliers with long-term demand visibility, enabling them to capture future growth and advance localization efforts.

Wail Al-Jaafari, executive vice president of technical services at Saudi Aramco, said: “The 40 new agreements signed today are expected to contribute to the domestic value chain and further enhance the ecosystem that Aramco is helping to build.” 

Moreover, these procurement agreements will also contribute to achieving the objectives of Aramco’s iktva program, an initiative to drive the growth of a vibrant economy in the Kingdom and create new opportunities for Saudi nationals.

These new corporate deals span the supply of a range of products comprising strategic commodities, such as instrumentation and electrical and drilling equipment. 

“These agreements move us toward a more prosperous, diverse and resilient supply chain, which will help ensure business continuity. They also represent a key milestone on our iktva journey and provide our partners an opportunity to benefit from a dynamic and increasingly diversified operating environment,” added Al-Jaafari. 

Additionally, Saudi Aramco signed two memorandum of understanding with its strategic partners to collaborate on localization and supply chain development. 

Earlier in February, speaking at the International Petroleum Technology Conference in Dhahran, Amin Nasser, CEO of Saudi Aramco, said that the company is very active in its localization efforts. 

“We hired more than 5,000 people, mostly Saudis, but also from 60 nationalities,” said Nasser.

He also added that Aramco has the full capability to grow in any sector to create profitable companies.

In January, a report released by strategic consulting firm Brand Finance revealed that Saudi Aramco has retained its position as the most valuable company in the Middle East region, with a value amounting to $41.6 billion.