Amazon.com Inc's Middle Eastern rival plans to raise to $2 billion in financing from investors, including Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, over the next three to four years in order to gain a more significant share of the Gulf e-commerce industry.

The investments from the Public Investment Fund and other sources will be used to improve infrastructure and speed up delivery, according to Noon's founder Mohamed Alabbar. He added that the investors are pleased with the company's development and are eager to fund.

E-commerce adoption has been relatively slow in the Middle East compared to other regions. However, lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic last year have sped up the transition to online shopping and delivery services. Still, e-commerce represents just 2% to 2.5 % of total retail in the area. In the West and in China, the number is around 22%.

Noon now operates in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, with plans to expand into additional Middle Eastern countries.

Alabbar, who is also the chairman of Emaar Properties PJSC, Dubai's largest developer, owns 50% of Noon with other regional private investors.  He received $1 billion in funding from supporters, including the PIF to launch the company in 2016. It now has approximately 4 million daily users, and its growth is picking up as it branches out into grocery delivery.

The entire region is seeing a surge in digital investments. A PIF entity led a fresh funding round for a Jordan-based online listings company, OpenSooq.com, in June, which is aiming to increase staff across the Middle East three-fold. Last year, Sanabil, another division of the wealth fund, led a $35 million investment round for a Dubai-based online vehicle seller, SellAnyCar.com.

A series of groundbreaking deals preceded these events, including Amazon's acquisition of e-commerce platform Souq.com and the sale of ride-hailing app Careem to Uber Technologies Inc. Both companies cater to the Arab-speaking world.