Alabbar's Noon venture has let Dubai staff go, say sources

Noon, the e-commerce venture of Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar partly funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, let go of dozens of staffers in Dubai amid delays to rolling out the app, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Members from all departments, as well as contractors and vendors were let go, the people said, asking not to be identified as they aren’t authorised to speak to the media. Two of them said that there is still some hiring taking place.

“Due to the shift in our operational base and the need for even greater efficiencies, there have been nominal staff reallocations and changes,” Noon said in an e-mailed statement Thursday. “Any rumours to the contrary are exaggerated and incorrect.”

Alabbar, also the chairman of Emaar Properties PJSC, told employees in late April that Chief Executive Officer Fodhil Benturquia is no longer working at the company, two of the people said. Noon said in Thursday’s statement that as a private company they don’t comment on internal matters.

Emaar Malls PJSC, the operator of the world’s biggest shopping center also chaired by Alabbar, in March bid $800 million for Dubai-based online retailer Souq.com and subsequently lost to Amazon.com Inc. That acquisition could have given a boost to Noon, in which Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund pledged to invest $500 million.

Alabbar said last year the app would go live this January. In a May 16 statement, Noon announced plans to start operations this year and have a permanent operational base in Riyadh. The company is scaling up operations in Riyadh by shifting some Dubai-based staff, according to Thursday’s statement.

“We will announce details of our launch, including the app, in due course,” Noon said. “We have a clear strategy, and continue to build a great team of professionals and strong partnerships.”

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