Which brands have the most user-friendly mobile sites in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia?

Shane Cassells / February 2018

In conjunction with usability experts cxpartners, Google has reviewed almost 500 of most visited sites across Europe, Middle East and Africa in Retail, Finance and Travel verticals to find out who are the mobile masters, and who still need to improve.

That we now live in a mobile world will not be news to most marketers. As smartphones have become ubiquitous, so consumers have become accustomed to being able to get things done on the go. With a powerful portal to the web in their pockets, they expect to be able to book a flight, open a bank account or buy a new set of headphones as easily as searching for a nearby restaurant or sending a message to a friend.

But in many cases, expectations are still some way ahead of reality. Mobile sites can be slow, with confusing navigation and unwieldy checkout processes that involve filling in multiple fields and completing multiple steps before purchase. When sites have these kind of shortcomings, consumers are inclined to abandon them. If you’re lucky, they may return to your site when they’re back on a desktop or laptop computer, but in the worst case scenario, they leave and never come back.

This is why the speed and usability of mobile sites are so important - and not just for developers. The pace of innovation in interaction design means that user expectations are constantly evolving, so marketers need to have absolute confidence in the quality of the mobile experience being promoted by their campaigns. Speed and user friendliness should be obsessions, but because of this rate of change, it can sometimes be hard to know exactly what good looks like right now.

Following a 2016 study, Google analysed the usability and speed of some of the most visited websites in Retail, Travel and Financial Services across Europe, Middle East and Africa to identify the “mobile masters” in each country and vertical.

The results revealed CoolBlue to be the mobile master in European Retail, Bank Norwegian to be the top brand in Finance, and Booking.com as the most user-friend Travel site.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the results of Saudi Arabia and the UAE brands in our study.


The top brands in Retail in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are: Namshi, Apple and Max Fashion.

Mobile Site Benchmark 2018 - AE/SA Retail Top 10

mSite Benchmarking Report

Brands score higher when there has been a company-wide policy to improve mobile experience:

"The slower the webapp, the lower the conversion rate, so we're always looking at ways to improve both from a UX and performance point of view."

- Alessandro Nadalin - CTO, Namshi

mSite Benchmarking Report

One of the first insights from the study is that compared to previous years, Retail sites have improved their search functions. Cognisant of the fact that small screens can lead to spelling errors on mobile, many site now anticipate misspellings and automatically correct. For example, morhipo.com offer excellent findability with autocomplete, spell correct and good next step guidance. Search results are easy to scan and helpful filtering is prominent and well designed. However, few sites show the original query, leaving open the possibility of miscorrection when choosing between words with similar spelling, such as ‘shirts’ and ‘shorts’. 

The study also showed that in addition to the convenient one-page checkout processes, more and more Retail sites are adopting third-party payment systems such as PayPal, Google Pay or Apple Pay. These integrations offer the potential to significantly streamline checkout for users who are already signed up to a payment system, but there are also potential pitfalls. If integrated carelessly, they can result in customers having to input address details on both the site and the payment provider, lengthening checkout and increasing the likelihood of frustration. On a final technical note, our research also revealed that while many Retail sites use secured checkout (via https://), there are still some who have yet to secure their entire site.


The top brands in Travel in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are: Booking.com, flydubai and AirArabia.

Mobile Site Benchmark 2018 - AE/SA Travel Top 10

mSite Benchmarking Report

Travel bookings tend to be relatively high value, so providing clear information to reassure users during checkout is crucial. In this respect, Booking.com excels, with the full price displayed prominently throughout the purchase process. Progress through the checkout flow is clearly indicated by a status bar, and users can click back and forth between pages without losing and having to re-enter details.

mSite Benchmarking Report

Similarly to developments in Retail, Travel sites such as tuifly.be from Belgium use a strong search design pattern with autofill for locations and a calendar which defaults to return dates once an outbound date has been selected.

On average, the two verticals in the UAE and Saudi Aravia scored between 63-67% in our usability survey, meaning that there’s still plenty to do to optimise the mobile user experience. If you want to find out how your own site compares, you can consult the heuristic framework used in the study and use the Lighthouse tool to automatically audit the performance and quality of your site. To find out more, please read the full text of the study and consult our archive of best practice advice.

The future of commerce is here. Are you ready?