Mini Ex­change grows

7 Days in Dubai - - BUSINESS -

UAE-based travel web­site Musafir.com now has an on­line visa ap­pli­ca­tion ser­vice. The new ser­vice will al­low cus­tomers to ap­ply for visas to the UAE and 14 other des­ti­na­tions and have their travel doc­u­men­ta­tion pro­cessed on­line. Ap­pli­cants can ap­ply and make pay­ment through the site, the visa will be pro­cessed then emailed back to them ready to be shown at immigration. “We are very excited to be launch­ing this con­ve­nient new visa ap­pli­ca­tion ser­vice that will play a key role in at­tract­ing, even more, vis­i­tors to the UAE,” said Sachin Gadoya, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and co-founder of Musafir.com. “We be­lieve it’s im­per­a­tive to make the travel process as easy as pos­si­ble for the cus­tomer, and in­tro­duc­ing this new prod­uct for visas prior is a mile­stone in our firm’s ob­jec­tives of pro­vid­ing pre­mium travel ex­pe­ri­ence.” The firm, which says it is the first travel provider in the GCC to of­fer such a ser­vice on­line, re­ported that it has wit­nessed a 40 per cent growth in in­bound tourist visa ap­pli­ca­tions from 2015 to the cur­rent year. On­line UAE mar­ket­place Mini Ex­change has raised $3 mil­lion (Dhs11 mil­lion) to drive growth. The start-up, which sells prod­ucts for moth­ers and kids, will use the cash to launch an app in English and Ara­bic, as well as ex­pand into new mar­kets in the GCC. Mini Ex­change said the money was raised through a fund­ing round that closed in just over three months and was over­sub­scribed. Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­tre of Re­tail Re­search, dig­i­tal re­tail is ex­pected to ac­count for 21.5 per cent of all global sales by 2018. Mini Ex­change said the figure, com­bined with the high pen­e­tra­tion rate of tablets and smart­phones, un­der­pins its vi­sion of be­com­ing a mul­ti­lin­gual “smart shop sys­tem”. The app will be launch­ing in tan­dem with plans to ex­pand into Kuwait and Qatar, al­low­ing cus­tomers ac­cess to its grow­ing range of 850 brands and 44,000 prod­ucts. Since its in­cep­tion in 2014 by ex­pat Sarah Jones (pic­tured), Mini Ex­change has grown from a small team of four peo­ple to 24.

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