Bahrain flag Bahrain: Buying and Selling

E-commerce in Bahrain

E-commerce

Internet access
With a population of approximately 1.6 million people, and over 1.5 million internet users, Bahrain has the highest internet penetration rate in the Middle East (98%). Competitive prices for broadband have also led to high levels of mobile internet penetration. According to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, there has been a remarkable increase in mobile broadband traffic in the last five years, which was mostly driven by the growing number of smartphone users in the country. Although Bahrain has some of the best internet penetration and speeds in the world, online freedom is an issue in the country. In 2017, Freedom House ranked the internet in the Bahrain as “Not Free”, given that authorities restricted internet connections, censored websites, and detained people for what they posted on social media. Google is by far the most popular search engine in the country. As of July 2018, the leading search engines in Bahrain ranked by market share were Google (89.95%), YANDEX RU (5.7%), Mail.ru (2.05%), Yahoo! (1.2%), Bing (0.89%) and DuckDuckGo (0.09%).
E-commerce market
The Middle East is a growing market in transition. E-commerce is beginning to come into its own as economies look to diversify away from petrochemicals to more sustainable industries. In Bahrain, the segment has been expanding rapidly over the past few years. In 2017, there was an estimated US$ 651 million in online sales. Airline tickets, electronics and jewellery are particularly successful online retail categories. Major global e-commerce websites, such as Amazon, eBay and Aliexpress are the most popular ones in Bahrain, ranking ahead of regional e-commerce retailers like Souq, Namshi or Alshop.  Given the small size of the population, their share of the regional total e-commerce revenue is also small, especially when compared to Middle Eastern giants like the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The market still faces some challenges in the region. A significant one is that a lot of online shoppers are still reluctant to give away personal information online, which is why the most popular payment method in the country is cash upon arrival. With most of the population connected to the internet on their mobile phones, 56% of online shoppers use their smartphones to place orders. Also, with the high number of social media users, small informal businesses like Instagram stores are very popular in the country.

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Latest Update: July 2022

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