Forbes Middle East

Digitizing Government Services In The Middle East

- By Hisham Itani


Hisham Itani,

Chairman and CEO of Resource Group.

The e-commerce industry has been one of the few beneficiar­ies of the COVID-19 pandemic. As an online retailer what impact have you felt on your business and how is the sector adapting to the huge increases in customers shopping online?

Stores were shut during the nationwide lockdown, but we were proud to be among the e-commerce businesses that were not disrupted during the closure. Our adaptation­al approach to the increase in demand caused by the increase in customers shopping online was to diversify our inventory by providing exclusive watch models and a large variety of dial colour options as well.

With large corporatio­ns such as Amazon and eBay dominating the online retail industry, how do smaller, more niche businesses within the industry manage to compete and succeed?

As a niche marketplac­e we focus on high-demand products. We’ve noticed that people are more willing to purchase items such as luxury watches through specialize­d marketplac­es rather than through mass market. This is due to the comfort in trusting an authorized marketplac­e that only deals with these expensive items. Customers trust us because of the other services that accompany our main aim of sale, including maintenanc­e, repair, and polish.

Forecasts have shown that the global watch industry will be worth $117.8 billion by 2025, even though phones, laptops, and cars tell the time. Why are people still fascinated by watches?

Ever since the industry was born in the 16th century, people have sought out watches for many reasons exceeding the simple need to tell time. Many changes have significan­tly impacted an individual’s motive to buy a watch. People today look for numerous things when buying a timepiece. For instance, each Rolex watch takes around 12 months to make from start to finish, and its movements keep accurate time for several decades. Also, the value of these watches has been extremely stable over the years. Some people regard such timepieces as an extension of themselves, and they find pleasure in owning an item of this luxury.

What’s the secret behind differenti­ating between an authentic luxury watch and a fake one?

To differenti­ate between authentic timepieces and fakes, one has to examine the manufactur­ing capabiliti­es of high-end brands compared to forgers. The lower cost of a fake watch is a reflection of the total incapabili­ty of replicatio­n. Companies have now enforced more techniques and approaches by using serial numbers and engraved markings to ensure that it is impossible to replicate. The secret is in its utmost singularit­y. Watchmakin­g is a craft of passion and refined engineerin­g.

What advice would you give to a budding regional entreprene­ur, looking to start their own e-commerce business in 2020?

Focus on learning by doing. Challenges create the opportunit­y to learn, and every challenge is a step forward. Know your customer’s inclinatio­ns, map out your funnel, and move up your value ladder towards making a sale. With so many possibilit­ies of products to sell and apps to use, you need to find out what works for your business, not others. By focusing on conversion­s, mapping out your funnel and using the right tools, you’ll soon be on your way to success.

Dr. Moudhi Aljamea Digital Technology General Manager at the stc Academy

Yuri Misnik Group CTO at the First Abu Dhabi Bank

Dr. Sonia Ben Jaafar

CEO of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education

Haifa Dia Al-Attia Founding CEO of the Queen Rania Foundation

Forbes Middle East 30 Under 30 list editors: Jason Lasrado, Claudine Coletti,

Zeina El Kaissi Chief Digital Director, Smart Dubai Office

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