US-based law firm Latham & Watkins has been appointed to advise on the development of the $1bn e-commerce platform Noon, which is scheduled to start operations in January 2017.

Founded by Mohammad Alabbar, chairman of UAE-based Emaar Properties, Noon promises to offer 20 million products ranging from electronics to fashion and books, among others.

Latham & Watkins is advising noon in connection with the development and launch of its platform. The team comprises corporate partner Sami al-Louzi along with associates Brian Meenagh, Eyad Latif, Omar Maayeh and Madonna Kobayssi, a statement from the law firm said.

“We expect noon to be a game-changer… the seed investment in the platform is an endorsement of the region’s support for local innovation,” Al-Louzi said.

Noon is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – which has a 50 per cent stake in the company – and UAE investors, led by Alabbar.

Headquartered in Riyadh, the company will initially launch in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and plans to cover the entire Middle East region soon after.

It aims to grow online sales in the region from 2 per cent of the total retail market ($3bn) to 15 per cent ($70bn) within a decade.

Noon’s online operations will be supported by a 10 million square-feet of warehousing capacity that would include a logistics centre in the UAE, same day delivery through Noon Transportation, an in-house express delivery service, and online payments using a secure gateway (NoonPay).

PIF recently entered into an agreement with Japan’s Softbank to form a $100bn technology fund, the world’s largest equity fund. It is understood that the two partners agreed to contribute $70bn over a five year-period, with the remaining $30bn to come from outsiders.

On 11 December, the US’ Wall Street Journal reported that Softbank held a discussion with Apple for a potential $1bn investment into the fund.