This took a long time coming.
Amazon had acquired Souq.com in 2017 and entered the Middle East market. Although, apart from the change in logo, nothing changed initially. After some time, in 2018, Amazon (still on Souq.com) launched Amazon Global Shipping (primarily from US). On May 1, 2019, Souq.com finally ceased to exist and was replaced by amazon.ae.
Finally, Amazon launched its Prime service in UAE today. It is offering a 30-day free trial. And the monthly subscription fee is AED 12 per month (discounted from AED 16 per month). I will be doing a full review soon. Till then, these are the key benefits offered by Amazon Prime UAE.
Free Next-Day delivery on all eligible items
Without a doubt, this is the most important benefit. Previously, Souq.com charged AED 10 as delivery charges even on eligible items if order size was below AED 100. In the last twelve months, I have spent at least AED 200 on shipping charges alone.
Amazon Prime makes it easy for you to order small items. Need a pack of diapers for your kid? Or maybe a bottle of shampoo? Order it on Prime and get it next day without any shipping charges. I have used Prime delivery extensively in other geographies. It makes you life really easy and saves a few bucks too – either on gas or retail store mark-up.
I do not want to be an ambassador for Amazon, so let me highlight a couple of issues here. First, you might end up ordering products you do not need. The checkout time at Amazon is typically less than a minute compared to 15-20 minutes at a physical store. This means your brain gets less time to reconsider the buying decision.
Second, only a small fraction of items available at amazon.ae are Prime eligible. You will have to pay shipping on others regardless of order size.
Free international delivery on orders over AED 100 from Amazon US
This is a great initiative. I am not aware of free international deliveries (Amazon Global Shipping) being offered with Amazon Prime in any other geography. Custom duties in UAE are minimal for most products and shipping is the key cost for international orders.
Although, I have a feeling that local sellers at Amazon.ae will not be too happy with this.
For instance, the 8 inch Black Panther (Marvel Comics) figurine sells at AED 110.
On the other hand, you could get a 12 inch figurine shipped from US at less than AED 40. This includes import fee deposit!
Disclaimer: This is just an illustration. I do not know if the toys are the same feature-wise.
Another big plus of having a Prime subscription. You get access to thousands of movies, shows, documentaries etc. If you have never heard of Prime Video before, it is like a smaller Netflix (arguably). I have used the Prime Video service in UAE and there is a lot of original content and Indian-subcontinent movies and shows.
There are some other benefits including early access to Lightning Deals and a free Twitch subscription for gaming aficionados.