Indonesia-based online marketplace Bukalapak has disclosed its plans to target Muslims in the Middle East, with a goal of becoming the Alibaba or Amazon of the Middle East.

In an interview with Nikkei Asian Review, Bukalapak co-founder and president Fajrin Rasyid said his company hopes to kick start its expansion plans as soon as possible, starting off with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Muslims constitute one-quarter of the world’s population and are also the world’s fastest growing population, projected to hit 3 billion by 2060. The Muslim population, therefore, presents Muslim-related businesses with huge growth opportunities. Bukalapak’s strategy is to differentiate itself from Amazon or Alibaba through the provision of differentiated products, focusing on halal food and fashion — the Islamic economy’s leading sectors.

Rasyid said the expansion will start with cross-border sales, developing and strengthening local partnerships with logistics companies — similar to its expansion into Asia through the launch of BukaGlobal. This means the company won’t need huge investments to fund the move.

Bukalapak’s venture into overseas markets comes with challenges like shipping costs and customs fees. The company is also concerned that Indonesia’s products lack competitiveness and attractiveness.

Founded in 2010, Bukalapak has four million sellers on its platform, boasting an average of 115 million monthly visits, according to SimilarWeb.

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