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Retail and consumer news from the Middle East. All the important stories, plus authoritative opinion and analysis.

Shoppers at the Galleria mall

Where the mall meets the metaverse

“We’re working on a number of initiatives that start to blur the boundaries between Web3, the metaverse, and how that is implemented in a physical space.” This is not how retail bosses used to talk a few years ago – but the digital habits that shoppers developed during the pandemic are here to stay, so […]

Subway Saudi

Cenomi rolls out Subway sandwich chain in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia-based Cenomi Retail has announced plans to sell 26 of its “non-strategic” brands, as it refocuses on what it classes as “coveted, winning brands” such as Subway. In a posting to the Saudi Tadawul exchange Cenomi Retail – the new rebranded name for Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Company – said the brands affected are expected […]

Horacio Pagani, Argentine-Italian founder, CEO and chief design officer at his supercar company

Cars, property and superjets: Pagani plots future with PIF

Horacio Pagani, founder of the supercar that bears his name, is open to further partnerships with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund as his company expands into luxury real estate and private jet design. PIF acquired a 30 percent stake in the Italian business in 2021. Pagani, who acts as its CEO and chief design officer, […]

shop, jewellery

Indians buy homemade jewellery for less in Dubai

Indians are travelling to Dubai to purchase jewellery made in their home country as it costs less in the emirates. Import duties, previously at 5 percent, were waived for jewellery exported from India to the UAE under the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa) signed between the two nations last year. “The prices are better,” said […]

Glove, Clothing, Portrait

Diamonds (from a lab) are the Gulf’s best friend

Basma Chaieri began her business after watching the season two finale of Netflix’s hit series Explained. The November 2019 episode, which explored the growing popularity of lab-grown diamonds, prompted the Dubai resident to quit her travel job and enrol in gemology school to study the trade. “I thought why would anyone buy a real diamond […]

Amazon is partnering with Lulu Group to deliver an online grocery offering for customers in the UAE

E-commerce delivers the goods for region’s retailers

A Dubai free zone has set up an e-commerce platform to help drive growth in the Mena market, as new data reveals 91 percent of regional consumers bought products online in the past year. One in five shoppers said they purchased more online in the past 12 months compared to the year before, with fashion […]

Dubai Mall owner Mohamed Alabbar attended the opening of Peet's Coffee flagship at the mall in his capacity as chairman of Americana, franchisee of the coffee chain

Dubai Mall shoppers up 20% on pre-Covid levels, says Alabbar

Visitor numbers at the Dubai Mall are a fifth higher than they were before the coronavirus pandemic, said Mohamed Alabbar, founder and chairman of Emaar Properties, the developer of both the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa. Alabbar said economic recovery from the pandemic is not only complete, but has exceeded 2019 figures. Footfall at the […]

Saudi Arabia’s bid to be the next global fashion powerhouse

It will not be long before Saudi Arabia produces a global fashion powerhouse brand to rival Louis Vuitton and Chanel, according to the man tasked with fulfilling the kingdom’s catwalk ambitions. “I have no doubt about that, the sky is the limit,” Burak Cakmak, CEO of the Saudi Fashion Commission told AGBI as designers from […]

Dubai conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim replaces CEO Bejjani

Alain Bejjani has been replaced at the helm of Dubai-based retail and property conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim (MAF). The Lebanese business executive had been CEO of the company since 2015. During his eight year tenure in charge, Bejjaini led the digital transformation of the company and spearheaded its drive towards sustainability. MAF also completed major […]

A new "phygital" store opened in Dubai in September, which is where shoppers get both a physical and virtual experience

Dubai customs law will ‘level playing field’ for local retailers

Dubai’s decision to lower the tax threshold for goods imported from overseas has been hailed by local retailers. Industry insiders see it as a positive step to protect businesses from global ecommerce giants and say it is already having a positive effect. Under Dubai Customs Notice No. 5 of 2022, which was announced in June […]

Britons splurge at Christmas but retailers brace for tougher 2023

British shoppers spent freely at Christmas, piling their trolleys with party food, drink and clothing as they enjoyed the first holiday season free of Covid worries for three years, but retailers warned most will tighten their belts in 2023. Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, and rival Marks & Spencer posted better than expected Christmas sales as […]

Despite the possibility of a global recession, shoppers in the Gulf have brought good news to retailers

Strong Gulf consumer spending defies global concerns

Consumer confidence among the Gulf’s shoppers remains strong, despite concerns about the impact of a global slowdown and rising prices. A survey by management consulting firm Kearney found that 88 percent of respondents in the UAE and 79 percent of those questioned in Saudi Arabia were concerned about global market volatility and rising inflation. At […]

Dubai's alcohol tax

Dubai’s alcohol tax cut met with some cheers but more booze

Dubai’s move to suspend the 30 percent tax on alcohol has triggered differing views about its impact on retail and hospitality businesses and their customers. Some experts say it will result in a short term boost in sales and will deter residents from travelling to other emirates to buy cheap liquor. But industry insiders disagree […]

Dubai Duty free

Perfumes drive Dubai Duty Free sales higher to $1.74bn in 2022

Perfume contributed AED1.134 billion ($310.66 million), or 18% of total sales of AED6.339 billion ($1.74 billion) for Dubai Duty Free in 2022. Overall sales rose 78 percent year-on-year, Dubai Duty Free said in a statement. The operation recorded over 17.3 million sales transactions throughout the year, an average of 46,912 transactions per day, while 47.302 […]

Time running out for Gulf’s luxury watch investors to cash in

After a boom in haute horology over the past few years, with reports of shortages that even put royals on the waiting lists, prices for Rolex watches have started to fall. But some coveted pieces will always command a premium, collectors have said. The value of Swiss watch exports to the Middle East in 2021 […]

Unilever says litigation with Ben & Jerry’s ‘resolved’ in Israel

Unilever said on Thursday that its litigation with the independent board of Ben & Jerry’s over the sale of its Israeli ice cream business has “been resolved”. The company did not provide details of how the litigation had been resolved. Unilever in June sold its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream business in Israel and the […]

Handbag, Bag, Accessories

Japanese sports brand Asics kicks off Gulf expansion in Doha

Japanese sports brand Asics has signed a deal with the UAE’s Apparel Group to develop branded retail stores across the Gulf. The five-year franchise agreement will see the rollout of 20 stores in Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain, with the first outlet opening in Doha Festival City Mall this week. Commenting on […]

An Emirati farmer inspects a passionfruit on his Dubai farm. Gulf governments want to grow more food locally

GMG-Silal deal aims to dish up customers for 1,100 UAE farms

More locally grown food is set to be sold in UAE supermarkets under a link-up between retailer GMG and agri-food business Silal, a subsidiary of sovereign wealth fund ADQ. Under the deal, which was signed at last week’s Abu Dhabi International Food Exhibition, up to 1,100 UAE farms contracted to Silal will be supported to […]

Cenomi fashion

Cenomi in bid to shake up kingdom’s online retail industry

The retail behemoth previously known as Fawaz Alhokair Group is overhauling its operations from being predominantly bricks and mortar-based to one of the region’s biggest online marketplaces. “Over the past three decades, we’ve done a fantastic job at making the business what it is today, but we know there is a lot more to be […]