Former Pakistani pop star to try out new career

Alif Investments buys exclusive franchise rights to Junaid Jamshed label, with a boutique scheduled to open tomorrow in Dubai's Meena Bazaar.

provided images of Junaid Jamshed men's collection
Courtesy Alif Investments

Junaid Jamshed, the famous Pakistani singer who quit pop life to devote himself to Islam, is coming to Dubai in yet another role - as a clothing designer. A popular retail brand in Pakistan and the UK, a Junaid Jamshed boutique is scheduled to open tomorrow in Dubai's Meena Bazaar.

Alif Investments, a new Sharia-compliant investment company in Dubai, obtained the exclusive franchise rights for the brand. Alif said it planned to invest Dh100 million (US$27.2m) in the next five years to open 50 outlets across the Gulf. It intends to open two more Junaid Jamshed boutiques in the UAE by the end of this year and enter the Saudi Arabian market with three outlets in the first quarter of next year.

"With an investment of Dh2m per store, we are looking to gradually expand into the region with a major focus on the UAE," said Muhammad Arif Abdul Aziz, the chairman of Alif. Mr Jamshed said Dubai had for years been a logical step for expansion into the international market, but he delayed it because of stiff competition from the established popular Indian brands. With 10 years of success behind him, however, he now feels the time is right.

"The UAE is a truly multicultural market with a lot of established Indian brands," Mr Jamshed said. "To be successful here means achieving the true international success." The strategy is to provide "quality and exclusivity in fashion brands at competitive pricing", Mr Aziz said, adding Mr Jamshed's success in Pakistan and the UK would help the company to "emulate the same story in this region". The first boutique in Meena Bazaar will feature ready-made, hand-woven apparel along with unstitched fabrics.

The collections for women, men and children feature typical eastern embroidery on a full range of fabrics. The new outlet will also sell accessories such as handbags and fragrances. The next step is the launch of traditional abayas for Arab clientele, Mr Jamshed said."We are excited at the prospect of meeting the fashion needs of the consumers in the UAE through our brand that epitomises chic, confident, impressive style," he said.

Mr Jamshed said his and another brand are the only two using traditional wooden looms to produce hand-woven fabric. "It will be a different experience for the people here," he said, adding the fabric from Pakistan was different from Indian fabric because of the quality of cotton thread. "After Dubai, the global market is open and maybe we can later enter the Indian market, which is the biggest for Asian fashion," Mr Jamshed said. He is also keen to open boutiques in Canada.

"We see a lot of prospects in that market. There is huge Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi population there and no one sells them the traditional Asian clothes."