Amazon in talks to buy Dubai-based online retailer Souq.com

US e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. is in talks to buy Dubai-based online retailer Souq.com FZ for about $1 billion in order to gain a footprint in the high-growth Middle East market, Bloomberg yesterday reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Amazon is considering a bid for the whole of Souq.com, which had initially planned to sell only 30 per cent, the report said.

Souq.com, backed by investors Tiger Global Management and South Africa's Naspers Ltd, had in September hired Goldman Sachs Group to find buyers for a stake in the company.

Founded in 2005 by Ronaldo Mouchawar as an auction site linked to internet portal Maktoob, Souq.com is often described as the Amazon of the Middle East.

When Yahoo! acquired Maktoob in 2009, Souq.com was not included in the sale and was spun off as part of Jabbar Internet Group.

It is the largest e-commerce platform in the Arab world offering more than 400,000 products such as consumer electronics, fashion products, and household goods.

It attracts over 24 million unique visits per month and sells more than 1.5 million products online to customers in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, and Qatar.