The UAE’s retail market is expected to grow 8% each year to 2020, reaching $52 billion in sales. It’s important to put this figure into context, especially as not all of the UAE’s 9.3 million people are able to shop at Givenchy.
The UAE is home to many different nationalities with many different cultures. In the first instance, this means that festive periods are common. Official public holidays centre around the Islamic calendar. This means for an entire month Ramadan boosts food sales. The festivals of Eid (there are multiple) are celebrated with food or gifts depending on which Eid it is. The whole of the UAE partakes in the retail boom. Then, there is Christmas. Not an official government holiday but a stroll through any of the UAE’s larger malls would have you thinking you are on Oxford Street, albeit slightly warmer. The more than 2 million expats from India celebrate Diwali, Keralites celebrate Onam.
In addition to cultural celebrations, Dubai has become known regionally for its shopping extravaganzas. Yes, extravaganzas. GITEX shopper attracts people from across the region with its tech bargains. Phones, TVs, almost anything gadget related can be bought at a discount. Traffic in the area grinds to a halt. GITEX is a town planner’s nightmare. At the start of the year Dubai hosts the Dubai Shopping Festival, in Summer it’s Dubai Summer Surprises. There is barely a point in the year when nobody is celebrating.
But, where does the money come from? Who walks around the 5m sq ft Dubai Mall? In a word; tourists. Dubai attracts retail tourists like no other city in the GCC. During Eid Al-fitr, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan, most GCC government employees enjoy long vacations. When Eid is called close to a weekend (exact timing is dependent on the appearance of the new moon) it is common for non-essential government departments to close for up to ten days. Tourists from Saudi, Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman book hotel rooms, eat at restaurants, and shop.
If you are researching Dubai for business purposes you will likely come across an overused term; one that states Dubai is a regional hub. The problem with this term is that it’s true, and is the best way to describe what Dubai is to many sectors. The UAE generally is an easy place to do business, and if your business is retail you’ll be doing business with the residents of many different countries.