I attended the closing ceremony for the 13th Dubai Shopping Festival a few days ago. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum and Sheikh Saeed Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum were on hand at the event.
Since its launch in 1996, the Dubai Shopping Festival has grown significantly in both stature and profit. The first festival, themed “One World, One Family, One Festival” grossed an estimated Dh2.15 billion (US$ 59 million) and hosted some 1.6 million visitors. Last year, the event attracted over 3.5 million visitors, earning Dh 10.2 billion (US$ 2.78 million).While this year’s figures are not due out later this week, organizers say the event saw gains across the board. “We broke records in various areas, particularly in lifestyle sales, electronics, and gold and jewelry which did especially great this year,” Ms. Suhail explained.
The gain in gold sales was welcoming news to the industry, which recently felt an overall slowdown in sales as world market prices dented demand for the metal. Gold prices have risen in Asia recently. The metal rallied 4.7 last weeks – its biggest weekly gain since Nov. 23 on higher oil prices and a weaker dollar. Gold retail sales increased by 24 per cent in 2007 in UAE, 33 per cent in Saudi Arabia, 29 per cent in Egypt, and 19 per cent in the other Gulf countries, according to the World Gold Council.
As of last year, DubaiCityGuide.com got in on the festivities, adding a virtual component to the festivities, including a shopping guide, as well as information on accommodation. One page on the site lists the latest gold prices for jewelry from India (Dh9/gm), Italy (Dh7/gm), Singapore (Dh5/gm) as well as locally made products (Dh4.50/gm). According to the online guide, over 25 tones of gold is on display in Dubai jewelry shop windows at any given time.
The festival mirrored recent retail trends across the region. In 2007, Abu Dhabi Duty Free reported robust growth across core categories, including beauty and fragrance products, liquor and tobacco, gold, confectionery products, and the best performer, electronics with a 52.2 per cent increase.
The United Arab Emirates is among the top 20 most attractive retail markets worldwide, according to A.T. Kearney, the Global Retail Development Index (GRDI), raking in an estimated Dh306 trillion (US$100bn) per year. Carrefour is the country’s top retailer.