After a meeting between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the crown prince, Amazon is adding several jobs in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
According to Bloomberg, Bezos and Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman met in Seattle last week to discuss a potential project that would have Amazon building a data center in the region.
It's unclear if the data center – which would be the first in the Middle East for Amazon – is proceeding, but the eCommerce giant did start advertising at least five new full-time positions for eCommerce and grocery operations in Riyadh this week.
Amazon-owned Souq also added three jobs in Dubai, which Raf Fatani, Amazon’s head of Middle East and Africa, promoted on his Twitter account on Wednesday (April 4). One of the positions is for a government relations representative.
Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
With the company's international operations losing $3 billion last year, Amazon is looking to get ahead in the Middle East. It purchased Dubai-based retailer Souq last year, and while the region has been slower to embrace eCommerce, mobile and online shopping is gaining steam in Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other more developed countries where smartphones are common. In fact, online sales in the Middle East and Africa are expected to reach $49 billion by 2021, up from $29 billion this year, according to research firm EMarketer Inc.
Since the U.S. is the largest investor in Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammad’s three-week tour is designed to cultivate more business for the region, said Sam Blatteis, Google’s former head of government relations for Gulf countries, who is now CEO of The MENA Catalysts, a consulting firm for tech companies expanding to the Middle East.
“The kingdom needs to increase foreign investment to help finance its ambitious reform and development agenda,” Blatteis said. “This heightening American technology interest in Saudi Arabia really matters.”