Comprehensive Marketing Guide to Middle East White Friday Sale

White Friday Marketing Guide – The Middle East’s Black Friday

Comprehensive Marketing Guide to Middle East White Friday Sale

What is White Friday?

Amazon (formerly Souq) , the largest e-commerce site in the Arab world, first introduced the idea of White Friday as a grand sale to the region in 2014 as a way of increasing internet traffic and, in turn, their sales. Then CEO and co-founder of the company, Ronaldo Mouchawar, attended university in the United States, during which he became acquainted with the wild sales phenomenon that is Black Friday. After witnessing firsthand how Americans seemed to go crazy for the discounts and deals, he decided to bring a similar event to the region with his e-commerce company. However, he decided to put a little spin on it. White Friday takes an American tradition and alters it slightly to be more compatible with the region. To create a successful, new regional phenomenon, Mouchawar had to resonate closely with the culture of the Middle East.

Black Friday has an association with Thanksgiving in the United States and, therefore, that could not be the same in the Middle East region where the holiday is not observed. Additionally, Friday is considered a weekend as it is a sacred day of worship in Islam for millions of Muslims from all sects. As black is a color generally associated with something sad or a tragic event, such as a funeral, a mourning period, or an association with an event, it would not be appropriate or culturally sensitive to imply any sort of negative characteristics with the holy day Friday. White is seen as a positive word suggesting images of goodness and sanctity. Therefore, decided to slightly alter the name from the American counterpart to associate it with something positive for Middle Easterners. Mouchawar told Newsweek of this idea: “We wanted to own an event that was not really tied to Thanksgiving as much but more tied to our Friday, our White, which is kind of positive and happy.  Amazon owns the term, but some companies use the term regardless, but it is advisable to call the sale something else, if you are making a November promotion in the region outside of Amazon.


Which countries participate in White Friday?

Mouchawar initially started with customers in several Gulf countries: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, but he expanded to Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and Egypt. Sales are found on the Internet. Additionally, the one-day sale has been elongated to a period of four days.


When is White Friday?

Though it started as merely one day, Amazon chose to expand it to four days or more to give people more opportunities to participate in the sales. Like Black Friday in the United States, it always starts the Friday following Thanksgiving, which is the last Thursday in November. Although it is not necessarily a fixed date, the pattern is always the same. In 2023, the official day is the 24th of November but the actual sale starts November 21 and goes to the 28th the UAE and the 30th in KSA.


Amazon White Friday


The Financial Promise of White Friday

Souq experienced tremendous success after the inaugural White Friday in 2014. In 2015, (now Amazon) alone sold 600,000 items and they hit almost double that in 2016 with an estimated 1,000,000 items sold, including 100,000 health and beauty products and 50,000 items within the fashion, apparel, and shoe category.

Mouchawar writes about that time: “Since we launched White Friday in 2014, customers have told us how much they like the event of this deal, so we are happy to be back this year with more deals and more choice than ever.”

Marketing strategies:

Respect Local Culture in Your Marketing Messaging.

First and foremost, it is important that marketers be aware of what sorts of messages and products are culturally permissible. Anyone willing to get involved with White Friday marketing should take special care to ensure their ads are always respectful of Muslim culture and traditions. By trying to make a slogan or a picture catchy and attention-grabbing, marketers could inadvertently include something that will offend local people. These messages should also comply with Amazon’s rules for products listed on their website.

Marketers have to remember that Friday is a significant religious day and Muslims feel a strong personal connection to this day that must be respected. All marketing messages should be run past locals “on the ground” to verify if it will not be provocative and thereby ruin the credibility your company has in the region. Examples of things that could be offensive are: calling the sales period “Black Friday,” advertising sales on alcohol or other intoxicants, advertising pork, using scantily clad women to sell your products, other impermissible or culturally taboo actions.

Offer LARGE Discounts on Your Products.

It may seem counterintuitive to earn money by discounting your products so much, but the strategy has proven to be effective in generating income time and time again. To give an example of a deal that is customary, Amazon has promoted deals in years past for technologies such as 60% off mobile phones, up to 40% off TVs, and up to 70% off cameras. They have also discounted groceries, toys, and fashion, amongst other things.

Here is a screenshot from Amazon website during a previous White Friday. Browsing this image will certainly give you an idea of what sort of sales you can offer on your own products.


White Friday Sale Image


Amazon Site White Friday


white friday 2023

Let People Know This Is the BIGGEST Amazon Sale of the Year.

Companies sell everything from electronics to beauty items to pets Amazon. Whatever your product might be, it is important to let people know that this really is the BIGGEST Amazon sale of the year. Souq (Now Amazon) does this often in their promotions as seen below. Whatever you decide to go with, you must let people know that they will not be getting a better deal the other 361 days of the year. Language and size of font are important to the design of your image. You want to capture the attention of the potential customer with an offer they would be foolish to turn down.


In order to attract and retain more customers, it would be extremely beneficial to set up your Amazon page or simply an advertisement written in Arabic and English. For any non-English speakers browsing your site, you want to ensure they can understand your wonderful sales. Additionally, be aware that in Arabic numbers are written differently.


Country-Specific Advertising

FBA sellers should have a clear strategy for the region before sending and broadcasting to all countries of the Middle East with a broad brush, it is important to understand the differences that will allow you to better advertise to those living there. Knowing country-specific trends about what people wear do for fun, and how they unwind will help you create content with a much greater impact.

As an inside marketing tip, Amazon considers the “big three” markets to be Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. As Mouchawar says, “These are our home markets, they have the same products and tastes so it is quite easy to have compatible products. And their income baskets are a bit higher.”

It is highly recommended that you read more about e-commerce in specific countries. Istizada has numerous blog posts on country-specific marketing in the Middle East, such as for Saudi Arabia.


Amazon Affiliates Program

Another option Amazon sellers might consider during this time is promoting their sales with their affiliates that are also part of Amazon Affiliates Program, which offers you a chance to earn a commission by creating and promoting unique links that refer users to Amazon and drive them to purchase something. For many affiliates, these sales times are a huge opportunity to earn more commissions.  Find out more information about the Amazon affiliate program here.




Potential of This Day:

As previously mentioned, White Friday is expected to keep growing in the next few years. E-Commerce in the Gulf States is estimated to reach $50 billion in 2025, according to Statista. As a result, there is huge potential for e-commerce profit during this modern age in the Middle East. All six of the Gulf Countries fall within the top 34 wealthiest nations in the world. Qatar, named the wealthiest country in the world, had a 2013 GDP of $105,091 per person. Middle Eastern consumers also have the highest per capita spending on luxury items. It is clear that increasing internet penetration, emerging technologies, wealth, and innovation are changing the notion of business in the region. This period is evidence of that. As this is a still-evolving industry, knowledge and patterns surrounding it are also developing. We wish you success with your Amazon marketing campaigns during this promotional time.

To learn more about e-commerce in the Middle East, check out this complete guide.

Here are some examples of White Friday video advertisements posted to Youtube by Amazon:


Here is also an endearing video from employees at Amazon to understand just how much fun this sale can be:

Written by: Jennifer Lundt