What's in a name? We speak to Rashid Alabbar
EDGAR meets the trailblazing young Emirati at the helm of fashion e-commerce website Sivvi.com.Matthew Priest May 26, 2015
Young, passionate and forward thinking, Rashid Alabbar seems very much like a chip off the old block. But the son of Emaar supremo Mohammed Alabbar, is by no means someone to rest on his laurels. EDGAR met the young founder of e-commerce fashion website Sivvi.com, and found a digital trailblazer putting his illustrious name to good use…
Start it up
I like startups. In my family we were brought up in a culture of startup businesses, where the mentality is that you can accomplish anything as long as you try and work hard for it. Growing up in a house where discussing big ideas is encouraged and you are taught not to fear failure, was very helpful.
Businesswise, as much as I am interested in fashion, for me the main focus it e-commerce. Sivvi.com is what I am really focused on at the moment, but it is the first piece in the bigger picture, which is to help develop the e-commerce infrastructure of the region. The market is very young, and there are many challenges but it is not impossible to overcome. Every month customers are becoming more advanced and thinking more like an e-commerce customer in any developed country. Because of this the businesses in the region have to adapt, which is what we are starting to see more of.
To market, to market
The UAE is a very strong market, but the most impressive so far has been Saudi Arabia. The minute we launched our Arabic language website it has been huge, with the traffic to transaction percentage at almost at 40 per cent! That means that four in every ten people who visit the website buy something. It also helps that a high proportion of the Gulf’s population is young and increasingly tech-savvy.
Grow your own
Although we stock international brands Sivvi.com also promotes local designers. That was one of the important things for me when we started. I wanted the website to be a portal that allows us to help us support – and for people to discover – locally-based talent. At the end of the day, Sivvi is local service. Most of our traction is in the GCC, so most of the local brands are extremely popular, and helping them get to market is very important to me.
One of the main things I have noticed is the growing trend of people caring less about labels and more about looking different and expressing themselves by wearing things that are unique. I think that Sivvi’s personality fits into that mindset, because we don’t stock the ultra-luxury brands, but cooler, more abstract ones that you are unlikely to find elsewhere in the region. For example, we are the sole regional distributor of the popular brand American Apparel.
Outside of work, I’m quite outdoorsy. I am very passionate about riding Arabian horses. I prefer endurance racing and I have competed in the main distances of 80km, 120km and 160km. I also try to travel as much as possible. I speak Italian, and will go to Italy several times a year – I can’t seem to stay away from there for too long! The food is amazing, the people are wonderful and they have some amazing horses!
- Clothing brands: Brunello Cucinelli, John Varvatos, Uniqlo, American Apparel
- Shoes: To Boot New York
- Watch: Breguet
- Car: Ford trucks
- Restaurant: Em Sherif, Address Downtown Dubai
- Holiday destination: Sardinia, Italy