Alibaba Group

Amazon breaks into the Middle East

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Screenshot from uae.souq.com.

Just days after exiting China, Amazon has spotted an open lane in another populous part of the world: the Middle East.

Why it matters: Analysts and Amazon executives don't often cite the Middle East as a region the behemoth hopes to crack, focusing instead on India, Brazil and China. But Arab countries are filled with millions of potential new Prime members — and there's little local competition to contend with.

Amazon's flex pales against Chinese counterparts

A split screen showing two warehouses
An Amazon warehouse (left); a JD warehouse (right). Photos: Rick T. Wilking/Getty; Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty

Amazon's move to slash free delivery times in half for Prime members — from 2 days to 1 — will squeeze American retailers, who are already scrambling to match it. But the e-commerce behemoth is still miles behind its Chinese rivals.

Why it matters: As we reported from China last summer, JD.com is already delivering 90% of its packages within 24 hours. Even 85% of packages shipped from abroad get to customers' doorsteps in a day. Last year, Alibaba said it will offer same-day delivery to all of China. Amazon is just catching up.