Dubai: Potential DXB

31 Oct 2016 by Akanksha Maker
Dubai Palm jumeirah

At the crossroads of the world lies the world-class, futuristic and new age emirate of Dubai. Connecting the city to 140 destinations around the globe, Dubai-based airline, Emirates supports its stand of being the business hub of the United Arab Emirates.

As per Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, India and Dubai’s lucrative trade relationship accounted to a total of AED 23 billion this year alone. The depreciation of the rupee caused exports to dip, however imports increased by four per cent, making Indian products more affordable in this city.

Back in the 1960s, the discovery of oil in the Middle East enticed Indians to migrate there. Today, majority of Dubai’s migrant population consists of Indians who moved there between the 1970s and the 1980s to partake in its many commercial opportunities.

It is no surprise that Dubai’s trade environment consistently tempts the Indian businessman. One of the fastest growing economies in the world, Dubai’s GDP grew by 4.6 per cent in the first half of 2015 alone. An amiable business environment teamed with economical costs of trading and fantastic proximity to Asia and Africa (both burgeoning continents) package Dubai to be an ideal business destination. While oil initially formed the backbone of the city’s (and the UAE’s) economy, today it doesn’t contribute beyond five per cent of its GDP.

Dubai has adopted a more “Western” approach to its economy, which has only proven to work in its favour. Sectors such as retail, tourism and hospitality continue to proliferate and boost its commerce.

As per the Dubai Statistics Center, the retail industry contributed US$14.5 billion to Dubai’s GDP, in the first half of this year. For the fourth consecutive year, Dubai fell behind London as “the most important international shopping destination” in

the world, as per a report by real estate consultancy firm CBRE. The absence of consumption taxes and a staggering influx of tourists have been conducive to Dubai’s retail sector that contributes 29 per cent of the emirate’s total GDP.

While grocery and non-grocery retail have both risen in value, the latter has enjoyed a higher degree of growth in the last year. Dubai’s urban youth with an ever increasing per capita income accounts for the accelerated escalation of non-grocery retail that entails footwear, apparel, beauty and luxury products.

Dubai mall

Boasting of some of the best shopping infrastructures globally, this city has always been synonymous with its extravagant malls. Grand shopping centres such as Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates and BurJuman Centre not only serve as retail destinations but large-scaled leisure hotspots that offer an array of entertainment options to locals and tourists. Imagine a world class aquarium as the backdrop while you indulge in the best of international luxury, global cuisines and world-class entertainment at Dubai Mall.

According to Nick Maclean, managing director at CBRE Middle East, “Dubai continues to remain the clear destination of choice for majority of the brands looking to enter the region for the first time, frequently using the emirate as a stepping stone for wider regional expansion programmes.”

Hamad Buamim, president and CEO at Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry elaborates, “Dubai’s retail sector is vibrant and continues to be driven by strong economic growth, increased consumer spending and tourist arrivals, which hit a record high of 13.2 million last year. It provides a wide range of opportunities for foreign retailers and brands, whether that is individual stores or franchise options. The quality of available retail space is an added incentive for global retailers looking for expansion, and key projects, such as Mall of the World promise a healthy future outlook.” Dubai already houses 95 malls and traditional Arabian souks and this year will see additional retail space of 2,00,000 sqm across the city.

With World Expo coming up in 2020, Dubai is expecting a wave of investments focused in the retail sector, which will further encourage the construction of more shopping malls. In November 2013 it was announced that the much awaited Expo will be held in this emirate. Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdam Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum cited this achievement as a “new phase in our journey as a country”. The Expo was germinated in London in 1851. It has since become one of the most sought after exhibitions which brings millions of people together to showcase the latest in technology and innovation. Dubai’s excitement to hold the exhibition pertains to the spike in tourism it forecasts to achieve.

An initial estimate of US$18 billion has been set as an indicative economic impact to be generated by World Expo 2020. In addition, the next five years predicts 2,75,000 jobs to be created across the emirates providing impetus to industries including tourism, hospitality, aviation, construction, real estate, logistics, hospitality and retail.

Dubai Marina

Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) and its hospitality sector, work in tandem to welcome the growth of tourism there. The first three months of this year itself welcomed around four million overnight visitors, which indicated a five per cent increase from the same period last year. Its top proximity markets: the GCC nations (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the other emirates) and India showed double digit growth (visitor units) in the mentioned period.

His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, the director general at Dubai Tourism says, “Markets within the four-hour flight path, specifically the GCC and India, remain a critical focus for our ongoing visitation attraction efforts. With an expanded festivals and events calendar taking off extremely well in the first three months and the opening of a number of new retail destinations and attractions, we are constantly evolving our propositions to ensure that our markets (visitors) have more reasons to return time and again. This is only expected to increase in prevalence throughout the year as a number of flagship projects and initiatives come on line, adding more depth and diversity to the Dubai offering.”

One such example is the city’s glitzy theme park — Dubai Parks and Resorts — that is slated to open this month. It is estimated that in the first year of its operation itself the attraction will welcome 6.7 million visitors. The park features a “Bollywood Boulevard” to cater to the Indian audience that will account for a majority of the guests.

A major chunk of the tourism inflow is business travel. A recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers reveals the significance of MICE in Dubai. In 2015, Dubai received 27 per cent of the GCC’s US$1.3 billion MICE revenue, establishing its position as the region’s top MICE destination. Dubai is also home to 42 per cent of association conferences in the Gulf.

It’s a circle, really. This increase in tourism is directly proportionate to the rise in the number of malls and of course, hotels. It is no secret that Dubai prides itself on some of the best properties in the world. The over-achiever emirate hit another milestone in May this year, when it reached the mark of achieving hotel occupancy of 1,00,000 rooms. It aims to position itself as one of the top ten global destinations in terms of available hotel supply. “Dubai has, and will continue, to be a leading luxury destination, and we continue to invest marketing spend in bringing more tourists that are seeking the high-end experience. This had facilitated the (hospitality) sector to invest in adding more 5-star (hotel) inventory despite challenging global markets,” adds His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri. Quoting Soroosh Shahrivar from his book The Rise of Shams, “Dubai, with all of its glitz and glamour rose in the heart of the desert.” With the best of retail, hospitality and tourism, this city effortlessly packages itself into a glamorous concrete jungle and continues to be a land of limitless aspirations.

Dubai Opera


With shimmering skyscrapers that range from tall, taller to the tallest, Dubai will bewitch you with its charm. Begin your sojourn in downtown at the foot of Burj Khalifa, the 839-metre high tower that peaks above every other building, not just in Dubai but in the world. Facing the Khalifa is Burj Lake, a 30-acre water-body that holds the attractive Dubai Fountain. Take what is known to be “the fastest elevator in the world” at 64kmph to reach “At the top”, a glass observatory on the 124th storey of the tower. The bird’s-eye view from the top of this tower is one for keeps.

Art and culture enthusiasts can head to the performing arts destination of Dubai — Dubai Opera (dubaiopera.com). Cited as the “shining pearl” of The Opera District in downtown Dubai, it will host a concert of Hussain Al Jassmi, an acclaimed Arabic-language singer from the UAE, on October 10. It has also presented world- renowned broadway musicals such as Les Misérables and will present West Side Story in February 2017.

To indulge in the best of luxury brands, entertainment and lifestyle experiences, head to Dubai Mall next to Burj Khalifa. It houses 1,200 stores, an ice-rink, an aquarium and some of the best F&B outlets from around the globe including Ping Pong, Paul, Mango Tree, The Cheesecake Factory and Ladurée.

When you tire of retail therapy, drive to Jumeirah, Dubai’s coastal residential area. Take a walk on the picturesque Jumeirah Beach towards Burj Al Arab, another architectural masterpiece of this emirate. The most notable symbol of Dubai before the advent of Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab was built on an artificial island offshore. Architect Tom Wright said — “The client wanted a building that would become an iconic or symbolic statement for Dubai; this is very similar to Sydney with its Opera House, London with Big Ben, or Paris with the Eiffel Tower. It needed to be a building that would become synonymous with the name of the country.” And symbolic it is, entering the 5-star hotel (you must have a reservation at a restaurant or the hotel to enter the premises) will take you into an alternative world that resembles an Arabic fantasy land. This all-suite property is one of the most coveted venues of the world.

This once underdeveloped desert has taken leaps and bounds to become a futuristic hub that now serves as an attractive destination for both, business and leisure travellers. However, it has preserved a 225 sqm natural reserve called Dubai Desert Conservation Reservation that conserves the natural beauty and biodiversity of the Arabian desert. A minibus will take you from your hotel to Margham, where you can glide away on a hot-air balloon in the wee hours of the morning over this land mass.

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