The holy month of Ramadan sets the cash tills rolling for Dubai retailers, primarily due to spends by residents and regional and international visitors. Overall, around one million international visitors are expected to visit Dubai during Ramadan.
Overnight visitors from the GCC to Dubai have continued to increase in 2016, with close to 1.3 million visitors in the first four months of the year. Saudi Arabia and Oman alone saw 587,000 and 428,000 visitors come to Dubai between January and April 2016, up 13% and 30%, respectively, over the same period last year.
Further adding to increased visitor expectations, the UAE was recently nominated as a top 10 travel destination during Ramadan among Muslim travellers in 2016, according to a study by MasterCard and Singapore-based halal tourism online platform CrescentRating. The UAE ranked eighth in the list topped by Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, according to the first Ramadan Travel Report.
“Dubai continues to be a year round city. With an enhanced destination proposition we are seeing more visitors and residents alike choosing to celebrate the holy month with family and friends in the city. We have seen positive forward bookings and hope to welcome more visitors to the emirate and our many offerings this month,” says Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation of Tourism & Commerce Marketing.
Despite slower growth projections for the first half of 2016, Dubai retailers have seen positive upswings across Ramadan, buoyed by strong retail promotions and offers.
“The holy month of Ramadan is a time for sharing and caring, while also inspiring people to buy gifts for their friends and families on the occasion of Eid,” observes Majid Al Ghurair, chairman of Dubai Shopping Malls Group (DSMG). “The retail sector in Dubai is always geared to cater to this market, and in light of the auspicious occasion DSMG is offering a rewarding experience for its shoppers during this season through its various offers and promotions. This year DSMG has rolled out an innovative promotion wherein shoppers can win Eidiyat up to AED1.5 million all through the three days of Eid celebrations. The campaign is designed not only to make a positive impact on the retail sector but it’s also our earnest effort to enhance the experience for shoppers across Dubai.”
“Ramadan is one of the important seasons for traders of gold and jewellery, as the market experiences positive sales, especially during the last ten days of Ramadan in the run-up to Eid al Fitr, the time when people buy gifts for their families and loved ones,” adds Tawhid Abdullah, chairman of Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group. “There was an increase in wholesale transactions in gold during this period, especially to Saudi Arabia, while retail sales rose slightly during the first half of the month of Ramadan, and has now begun to move much better as we approach the Eid holidays.” Abdullah expects gold and jewellery sales to increase by 5% during the holy month compared to the same period last year.
“As always, Ramadan and Eid will bring in specials for this spiritual and cultural season that involves local and regional communities,” says Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Fahim, CEO, Paris Gallery Group of Companies. “This year’s festive promotions in the UAE will be very attractive to customers from the GCC and the Middle East whose influx, we believe, will be more than last year. Paris Gallery is well equipped to meet customer demand with its best-selling niche line of fragrances and new lines of stunning, soulful scents. Our special offers will also include luxury gift sets and assorted gift baskets that serve as easy gifting options.”
Along with the retail community, shopping malls also saw a busy. “The holy month of Ramadan is a period of festivity and celebration for shopping malls across the UAE,” emphasises Fuad Mansoor Sharaf, senior Director – property management, shopping malls for Majid Al Futtaim Properties.
“In addition to thematic Ramadan decor celebrating Arabic and Islamic traditions, our shopping malls are hosting an array of interactive, engaging and meaningful family entertainment and activities. The result is a consistent buzz of activity and festivity that, while respectful to the traditions and customs of Ramadan, is also entertaining and appealing at the same time attracting visitors to the malls,” he elaborates. “Contrary to the perception that Ramadan is a quieter period – particularly during the summer – the shift lies in demographics and timings where visitation is busiest towards the late evening, with more families and children. Our F&B outlets enjoy increased business for Iftar and Suhoor, and overall shoppers spend increases towards the end of Ramadan, in the lead up to the traditional gift-giving period of Eid Al Fitr. As such, we expect footfall and sales to be positive during Ramadan this year.”
Complementing Sharaf, Nisreen Boustani, PR and corporate communication manager, Mercato and Town Centre Jumeirah, adds, “So far this month, sales have been up compared to Ramadan last year. There is a remarkable growth. This Ramadan, retailers at Mercato are focusing more on promotions and deals in order to drive footfall and sales. We have noticed GCC tourists coming to enjoy the special ambience in Dubai during the holy month of Ramadan and get the chance to grab few deals in our stores.”