CommerCity: How Redbox is helping to shape the future of e-commerce in the Middle East

Easier; better; faster; cheaper. This might sound like the lyrics of a Kanye West song, but in the world of digital retail, consumers are demanding more from brands than ever before.

are just one example of the digital improvements around service and delivery that are forcing businesses in other industries to overhaul their long-term strategies to keep up with customer expectation.

And while the Middle East and Africa have long been behind the global digital curve, a recent report by the Mastercard Economic Institute’s Economy 2021 found that 73 per cent of consumers in the region were shopping more online than before the pandemic.

Today, investment in digital is rife in the Middle East and nowhere more so than Dubai CommerCity – an innovative ecosystem being built in Dubai to cater solely for e-commerce business.

But how exactly will CommerCity help businesses meet customer demand? With Redbox exclusively providing the digital solutions for brands signing up to the project, here we take a look at what it’s all about.


Dubai CommerCity is the first Free Zone in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MESA) dedicated exclusively to e-commerce.

With an investment of around a $1billion so far and an area next to Dubai International Airport covering a huge 2.1million square feet, it has been set up to help and service e-commerce businesses in the region and from around the world.

A true turn-key solution means new or established digital businesses can move in and have everything they need at their fingertips to set-up and get off the ground quickly.

The development has three main areas, each offering something different for merchants. The Business Cluster is home to the offices; the Logistics Cluster has state-of-the-art dedicated warehouses with scale-able pay-as-you-go pricing models; the Social Cluster has restaurants, cafes, events and more.

On top of this, companies can benefit from licensing and business set-up packages and support; end-to-end logistics services; pre-integrated and pre-configured e-commerce platforms; performance marketing and content support; customs support; help with regulations and e-commerce strategy consulting.

Sarmad Hassan, Redbox’s Middle East country manager, said: “It’s effectively a one-stop shop for e-commerce in Dubai. It’s not just about providing an office, but a warehousing centre, a website, design services, integration with payment gateways, compliancy with Dubai customs. CommerCity brings all these things together and streamlines the whole process.”

Dubai CommerCity


E-commerce across the Middle East is expected to grow 20 per cent in the next five years, outpacing global growth of 13 per cent. CommerCity will go some way in helping pave the way for digital brands to tap into this growth.

With speed and convenience so important to customers today, CommerCity is geared up to make life as easy as possible for e-commerce businesses.

What’s more, Dubai CommerCity is located in the heart of Dubai and at the centre of the regional trade route, providing access to over two billion people within a two-hour flight radius.

The e-commerce city will provide:

Location and customs assistance

With CommerCity based next to Dubai International Airport, an e-commerce business couldn’t be better placed.

Logistically, it will help businesses cut down on delivery times with warehouses easily accessible from the airport and less time needed distributing goods on a regional level. Times and costs for returns will also be cut.

With cross-border e-commerce often so complicated for new businesses, a customs consulting service is available for merchants to help them get the right paperwork in order and cut through the red tape.

A good, working knowledge of the customs process will help companies facilitate a smooth transfer of goods, which can also save time and expense in the long-run. Companies based at CommerCity also have the luxury of being cleared faster by customs than other businesses in the region.

Sarmad said: “Dubai is a massive hub in terms of its geo-location. The idea is for merchants to be closer to the airport and by being part of the airport infrastructure it will help these businesses ship anywhere in the world within a couple of days. It’s a massive selling point, it will really cut back on delivery times, regionally and internationally.”

Quick set up for international brands

To operate in Dubai, international businesses would normally need a special license and sponsorship from a regional company.

With CommerCity, this is waived, meaning digital businesses can set up quickly and more easily.

“The government wants more investment and they are trying to free up the need to partner up with a citizen,” continued Sarmad.

“Any company operating in a Free Zone can open their business and own 100 per cent of it rather than having to bring in a company to take a share. It’s a great incentive.”

Office and warehousing onsite

Many new e-commerce businesses need a small office and warehouse space to kick-start their operations, but don’t know where to begin. They might not want to commit to office space for a year and a lengthy warehouse contract on top might make them wary of going forward.

CommerCity offers both on one site, with scalable pay-as-you-go pricing models for office and warehouse space to help new businesses get their projects off the ground. For established businesses, or international brands, it gives them an affordable and scalable base to launch their digital operations.


Redbox provides one of the final pieces of the jigsaw.

Firstly, Redbox is the exclusive provider for any business needing website or digital solutions. With Adobe Commerce CommerCity’s platform partner, new businesses that need an online store, or established businesses that need a digital solution to support their growth, will know they are in safe hands thanks to Redbox’s expertise and knowledge of the Adobe ecosystem.

Secondly, as integration with the onsite warehouse infrastructure has already been established, brands that want a new platform can expect shorter times to launch their sites, with warehouse and logistics capability all ready to go.

Thirdly, Redbox already has a glowing reputation in the region for building comprehensive digital solutions for well-known brands including Diesel, ASQ, Nespresso and Nahdi. New partners can benefit enormously by tapping into Redbox’s local knowledge and expertise, and extensive partner ecosystem and integration capabilities. As well as local partners Tabby and OTO, Redbox works with global players such as Klarna, Akeneo, Adyen and dotdigital.

Sarmad continued: “Apart from using an agency who has been in the region for over seven years and extensive expertise in Adobe Commerce, one of the other benefits of partnering with Redbox is that we are highly integrated with the warehouse and delivery capability that CommerCity provides through partners like DHL and Dubai Customs.  It’s a no-brainer for businesses wanting to get their ecommerce and delivery operations up and running in a matter of weeks.”


 While the benefits of an ecosystem like CommerCity to the Middle East is clear, a similar project in another region is unlikely to have the same impact. In the UK, for instance, there isn’t as much red tape for an international e-commerce business setting up.

But with brands needing goods quicker than ever, perhaps CommerCity will encourage similar one-stop shops to be built at major airports for convenience?

For now, the world will watch with interest as CommerCity helps bring more digital business into the region – and to see the difference having so much infrastructure already in place can make to timings around building platforms, logistics and delivery.

Redbox CEO Jonty Sutton added: “We’ve invested a lot in time and effort into this partnership and are offering packages at a more competitive rate than we would on the open market as part of our commitment to the region and project.

“The infrastructure is in place now, so the next phase will see businesses move in and start to connect with the partners in place, including Redbox.

“It’s early days. CommerCity has only just launched, but already it is 50 per cent full and we are already speaking to our first prospects.

“We believe it’s an exciting project and hope it will help shape the future of e-commerce in the region.”