* 2 min read
Mredy.com is the famous and largest e-commerce website in Iraq. I am not sure about the launch date for the site, but possibly around 2011.
Even though it is considered the Amazon.com of Iraq, as an e-commerce site it remains at an early period of technology. The site is not equipped to handle online transactions such as credit cards, PayPal or similar services. It is not because Iraq lacks the technical expertise of implementing such technologies, but it’s due to the primitive banking system of the country.
Mredy.com is currently providing the largest online display of products and services in Iraq, ranging from cars, properties, local shops and other services. The home page has a simple clickable Iraq map divided by provinces for a quick search. Ad placement is believed to be the main income generator for the site. The public is able to place ads to advertise their businesses countrywide.
I browsed the site for a quick look, and I was surprised to find a Chinese company listed a range of services for Massage and Fitness in Baghdad. Knowing the culture, I wasn’t surprised to find out it had one of the highest counts at 16,121+ views. The company offers:
“ايدي خبيرات صينيات متخصصات” which translate to “with Chinese expert lady’s hands”.
Apparently, the Chinese have defied the unemployment challenges to come to Iraq and provide comfort for people in a city that remains torn by sectarian and civil unrest.
For others who are interested in procuring any tangible products through the site, arrangements are made to rendezvous. Considering the current state of Iraq, a car bomb could explode anytime and anywhere, which could affect the prices drastically. Many neighborhoods are not safe to go to and others are controlled by different armed militias. The buyer and seller try to meet in one of the known places in Baghdad (outside their neighborhoods) preferably near a police or army checkpoint.
The name of the site drew its popularity from a legendary local market called “Souk Mredy” in Sadr city. According to Wikipedia (Arabic) it was established circa 1972. It is THE place for forging government IDs, producing fake documents, and degrees ranging from high school diplomas to PHDs. It is a widely held belief and a common joke that many Iraqi politicians and parliament members are holding degrees from the Mredy market.
The website and the local market have an Amazon like slogan, “You can find everything in souk Mredy”. During U.S. occupation in Iraq and still continuing today, different weapons and drugs were and are being sold. Sadr city was one of the major battle grounds for the U.S. Army
“People could even find stolen helicopters for sale and dealers for human body parts.” I was told by a friend of mine who uses the website.
In an oil rich country such as Iraq with a primitive usage of banking systems, I wonder about the promise of cryptocurrency – the utopian world of decentralizing banks and removing the third party. Could the country leapfrog PayPal or credit cards to a Bitcoin economy?
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