A man checks out electronics gadgets at Jumbo Electronics store in Mall of the Emirates. ( Jaime Puebla - The National Newspaper )
A man checks out electronics gadgets at Jumbo Electronics store in Mall of the Emirates. ( Jaime Puebla - The National Newspaper )

Sales sizzle in a long hot summer in the UAE



Shopping sales continued to surge during the summer months, with the malls in Abu Dhabi and Dubai busy and customers splashing out on goods despite retailers having predicted a sharp decline in activity during Ramadan. Rory Jones reports on the unexpected buying boom.

Cars

Financing schemes and promotions helped to keep sales of cars motoring across the UAE during the summer, despite numerous obstacles impeding the path to growth for dealerships.

"We have had a good Ramadan, there's no two ways about it," says Andrew Squires, the manager for sales, planning and distribution at Al-Futtaim Motors, which sells Toyota, the UAE market leader.

The dealership recorded sales growth of 9 per cent last month compared with the same period last year, offloading nearly 7,000 units, Mr Squires says.

"The Ramadan promotions were very warmly welcomed."

Al-Futtaim launched a set of financing options called Toyota Choices earlier in the year and updated them for Ramadan.

Customers were given the opportunity to pay the mandatory 20 per cent deposit for a car over the life of a 24-month loan.

These deals made up 20 per cent of sales during Ramadan, according to Mr Squires, and the company is continuing the offer indefinitely.

Dealerships have had to deal with a number of factors skewing sales, including the Central Bank lending rules introduced in May and the timing of Ramadan, which fell in a traditionally quiet month.

Three of the UAE's major brands, Toyota, Nissan and Honda, have also had to manage lower supply because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last March. Al Majid Motors, the exclusive distributor of the Korean brand Kia across the Emirates, benefited from the plight of its rivals, with 17 per cent growth in sales during Ramadan.

"New entrants such as Picanto made noticeable changes in the volume," says Ramesh Amei, the product manager at Al Majid. "We have seen the increase in individuals shifting from their previous brands."

Al Majid offered promotions to entice buyers during the holy month, including one year's free insurance and five years' warranty.

Arabian Automobiles, the exclusive dealer for Nissan, Renault and Infiniti in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, has extended its promotions until the end of this month, including the opportunity to defer payments on financing for six months.

"Ramadan was a great retail month," says Felix Welch, the head of sales and marketing at Arabian Automobiles. "But Ramadan didn't really get going until the second and third week."

Arabian Automobiles sold 2,500 models during the holy month, up 7 per cent on the same period the previous year. Honda had to recall 7,000 Civics and 2,000 Accords over the summer while dealing with a huge supply shortage. It says sales were flat for the period and it hopes for a strong finale to the year.

Supply during Ramadan could not keep up with demand from customers, says Mark Kass, the managing director of Al-Futtaim Honda. However, there was a good mix of sales across the company's range of models, he says.

Clothing & Jewellery

Customers in search of stylish outfits for family celebrations

Fashion brands and jewellery have enjoyed surprising growth in the summer sales.

Many retailers expected a dip during Ramadan because of the shortened mall hours in the middle of the day. But late-night shopping and a high number of Arab nationals staying in the country helped to boost sales.

"It's a bit counter-intuitive, but I think it was busy for retailers in Ramadan because a lot of people did not leave the UAE," says David Macadam, the head of retail in the Middle East for Jones LangLaSalle.

"At 3 o'clock in the morning, there were still customers in the malls."

Boutique 1 Group, the retailer behind its own branded high-end fashion stores, and the franchisee for Mulberry, Chloe, Missoni and Furla, achieved a 30 per cent increase in sales during the summer compared with the same period last year.

"Mulberry is growing very significantly, as the brand has become one of the most desirable luxury bag brands," says Ziad Matta, the chief executive of Boutique 1 Group.

"Booming is probably too strong a word, but there is no doubt that there is continued strong demand for luxury brands, and the right product continues to attract strong demand irrespective of price."

Allied Enterprises, which has partnerships or franchise agreements with brands such as Chanel, Fendi, Saks Fifth Avenue and Louis Vuitton in the UAE, also enjoyed strong growth in sales during the summer.

"July was, I would say, an exceptional month. We have seen growth above 20 per cent in fashion compared to last year," says Mansour Hajjar, the managing director for Allied Enterprises.

"We definitely benefited from the surge in GCC tourism."

Although Ramadan was quiet for the first few weeks, a strong final week and Eid also meant sales increased 10 to 15 per cent, compared with the holy month last year, Mr Hajjar said.

Jewellers also enjoyed an increase in sales this summer, despite a 30 per cent jump in the price of gold in the past six months.

"The price of gold has also actually increased the demand for jewellery this summer," said John Paul Joy Alukkas, the executive director for Joyalukkas Group.

"Consumers feel gold and jewellery is a safe bet, hence they are not holding themselves back."

Mr Macadam believes new home-grown brands, such as Iconic by Landmark Group and Katakeet from Allied Enterprises, are contributing to the buoyancy in the retail market.

"More brands are being embraced by the local public," he says. "It's positively optimistic and moving forward, but it's not anywhere near the 2007 days."

Boutique 1 expects its good fortune to continue and anticipates sales growth this year of 30 per cent on last year as it launches new collections, including one designed by Claudia Schiffer, the supermodel.

Electronic Goods

Shops selling must-have gadgets were the major beneficiaries of a marked retail spree during the summer in the UAE.

Even the traditionally quiet month of Ramadan failed to dent demand for the latest smartphones and tablets.

Sales at Jumbo Electronics, which has 28 stores scattered across all seven emirates, jumped 24 per cent during Ramadan compared with the same period last year.

"For us, the summer has been pretty good, better than expected," says Nadeem Khanzadah, the deputy general manager for retail at Jumbo. "August is usually our weakest month of the year, but for some reason it's not been bad."

Ramadan sales even outstripped overall growth for the year so far, which has been at 18 to 20 per cent for Jumbo.

Stores in Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall and Deira City Centre recorded the strongest figures on the back of a flurry of free-spending Gulf tourists.

"This is one of the best summers we've had," Mr Khanzadah says.

Other electronics stores are also enjoying strong growth in sales as customers upgrade gadgets on a more regular basis and buy an increasing number of goods.

The tablet has created a new segment, while laptops are now being upgraded along with mobiles, according to retailers. "Usually Ramadan is a slow month," says Omar Abushaban, the general manager at Plug-Ins Electronix. "But specifically the back half of Ramadan was very, very good."

Overall, sales in Ramadan increased 8 to 10 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Sales at Plug-Ins were also helped by the high level of retail activity during the Dubai Summer Surprises festival and the timing of the Eid holiday this year, which meant many people were off work for five consecutive days.

Many retailers say promotions on cooking appliances sold strongly during the holy month as well as cameras to expatriates going abroad for holidays.

"Eid was good because everyone is back, schools are opening, there's a lot of activity." says Ashish Panjabi, the chief operating officer for Jacky's Electronics, which has nine stores in the UAE.

"Overall the summer was a bit of a mixed bag."

Despite the relatively peachy sales performance, some retailers are becoming more pessimistic about the economic news from the West and how that might affect spending in the Middle East.

"The only anticipated downside is how the bad news from Europe and the US will affect sentiment," Mr Khanzadah says.

Retailers fear shoppers may begin to reduce spending and start saving more if the global news deteriorates. But for now, the tills are ringing.

Company profile

Company name: Suraasa

Started: 2018

Founders: Rishabh Khanna, Ankit Khanna and Sahil Makker

Based: India, UAE and the UK

Industry: EdTech

Initial investment: More than $200,000 in seed funding

The specs: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Price, base: Dh198,300
Engine: 2.0L in-line four-cylinder
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Power: 280hp @ 5,250rpm
Torque: 400Nm @ 2,250rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 7L / 100km

The specs

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 680hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 800Nm at 2,750-6,000rpm
Transmission: Rear-mounted eight-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 13.6L/100km
On sale: Orderbook open; deliveries start end of year
Price: From Dh970,000

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
SPEC SHEET: APPLE IPAD PRO (12.9", 2022)

Display: 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR, 2,732 x 2,048, 264ppi, wide colour, True Tone, ProMotion, 1,600 nits max, Apple Pencil hover

Chip: Apple M2, 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Memory: Storage – 128GB/256GB/512GB / 1TB/2TB; RAM – 8GB/16GB

Platform: iPadOS 16

Main camera: Dual 12MP wide (f/1.8) + 10MP ultra-wide (f/2.4), 2x optical/5x digital, Smart HDR 4

Video: ProRes 4K @ 30fps, 4K @ 24/25/30/60fps, full HD @ 25/30/60fps, slo-mo @ 120/240fps

Front camera: TrueDepth 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.4), 2x, Smart HDR 4, Centre Stage, Portrait, Animoji, Memoji; full HD @ 25/30/60fps

Audio: Four-speaker stereo

Biometrics: Face ID, Touch ID

I/O: USB-C, smart connector (for folio/keyboard)

Battery: Up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi; up to nine hours on cellular

Finish: Silver, space grey

In the box: iPad, USB-C-to-USB-C cable, 20-watt power adapter

Price: WiFi – Dh4,599 (128GB) / Dh4,999 (256GB) / Dh5,799 (512GB) / Dh7,399 (1TB) / Dh8,999 (2TB); cellular – Dh5,199 / Dh5,599 / Dh6,399 / Dh7,999 / Dh9,599

TOP 10 MOST POLLUTED CITIES

1. Bhiwadi, India
2. Ghaziabad, India
3. Hotan, China
4. Delhi, India
5. Jaunpur, India
6. Faisalabad, Pakistan
7. Noida, India
8. Bahawalpur, Pakistan
9. Peshawar, Pakistan
10. Bagpat, India

Source: IQAir

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

The specs

Engine: 6.2-litre supercharged V8

Power: 712hp at 6,100rpm

Torque: 881Nm at 4,800rpm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 19.6 l/100km

Price: Dh380,000

On sale: now

INDIA SQUAD

Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Other ways to buy used products in the UAE

UAE insurance firm Al Wathba National Insurance Company (AWNIC) last year launched an e-commerce website with a facility enabling users to buy car wrecks.

Bidders and potential buyers register on the online salvage car auction portal to view vehicles, review condition reports, or arrange physical surveys, and then start bidding for motors they plan to restore or harvest for parts.

Physical salvage car auctions are a common method for insurers around the world to move on heavily damaged vehicles, but AWNIC is one of the few UAE insurers to offer such services online.

For cars and less sizeable items such as bicycles and furniture, Dubizzle is arguably the best-known marketplace for pre-loved.

Founded in 2005, in recent years it has been joined by a plethora of Facebook community pages for shifting used goods, including Abu Dhabi Marketplace, Flea Market UAE and Arabian Ranches Souq Market while sites such as The Luxury Closet and Riot deal largely in second-hand fashion.

At the high-end of the pre-used spectrum, resellers such as Timepiece360.ae, WatchBox Middle East and Watches Market Dubai deal in authenticated second-hand luxury timepieces from brands such as Rolex, Hublot and Tag Heuer, with a warranty.

Shooting Ghosts: A U.S. Marine, a Combat Photographer, and Their Journey Back from War by Thomas J. Brennan and Finbarr O’Reilly

World Test Championship table

1 India 71 per cent

2 New Zealand 70 per cent

3 Australia 69.2 per cent

4 England 64.1 per cent

5 Pakistan 43.3 per cent

6 West Indies 33.3 per cent

7 South Africa 30 per cent

8 Sri Lanka 16.7 per cent

9 Bangladesh 0

PROFILE OF HALAN

Started: November 2017

Founders: Mounir Nakhla, Ahmed Mohsen and Mohamed Aboulnaga

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport and logistics

Size: 150+ employees

Investment: approximately $8 million

Investors include: Singapore’s Battery Road Digital Holdings, Egypt’s Algebra Ventures, Uber co-founder and former CTO Oscar Salazar

Indika

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: Odd Meter
Console: PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 4/5

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now

BULKWHIZ PROFILE

Date started: February 2017

Founders: Amira Rashad (CEO), Yusuf Saber (CTO), Mahmoud Sayedahmed (adviser), Reda Bouraoui (adviser)

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: E-commerce 

Size: 50 employees

Funding: approximately $6m

Investors: Beco Capital, Enabling Future and Wain in the UAE; China's MSA Capital; 500 Startups; Faith Capital and Savour Ventures in Kuwait

$1,000 award for 1,000 days on madrasa portal

Daily cash awards of $1,000 dollars will sweeten the Madrasa e-learning project by tempting more pupils to an education portal to deepen their understanding of math and sciences.

School children are required to watch an educational video each day and answer a question related to it. They then enter into a raffle draw for the $1,000 prize.

“We are targeting everyone who wants to learn. This will be $1,000 for 1,000 days so there will be a winner every day for 1,000 days,” said Sara Al Nuaimi, project manager of the Madrasa e-learning platform that was launched on Tuesday by the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, to reach Arab pupils from kindergarten to grade 12 with educational videos.  

“The objective of the Madrasa is to become the number one reference for all Arab students in the world. The 5,000 videos we have online is just the beginning, we have big ambitions. Today in the Arab world there are 50 million students. We want to reach everyone who is willing to learn.”

WHAT IS A BLACK HOLE?

1. Black holes are objects whose gravity is so strong not even light can escape their pull

2. They can be created when massive stars collapse under their own weight

3. Large black holes can also be formed when smaller ones collide and merge

4. The biggest black holes lurk at the centre of many galaxies, including our own

5. Astronomers believe that when the universe was very young, black holes affected how galaxies formed

Common symptoms of MS
  • Fatigue
  • numbness and tingling
  • Loss of balance and dizziness
  • Stiffness or spasms
  • Tremor
  • Pain
  • Bladder problems
  • Bowel trouble
  • Vision problems
  • Problems with memory and thinking
Griselda

Director: Andrés Baiz

Starring: Sofía Vergara, Alberto Guerra, Juliana Aiden Martinez

Rating: 4/5

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).


Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Series information

Pakistan v Dubai

First Test, Dubai International Stadium

Sun Oct 6 to Thu Oct 11

Second Test, Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Tue Oct 16 to Sat Oct 20          

 Play starts at 10am each day

 

Teams

 Pakistan

1 Mohammed Hafeez, 2 Imam-ul-Haq, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Asad Shafiq, 5 Haris Sohail, 6 Babar Azam, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed, 8 Bilal Asif, 9 Yasir Shah, 10, Mohammed Abbas, 11 Wahab Riaz or Mir Hamza

 Australia

1 Usman Khawaja, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 Mitchell Marsh, 5 Travis Head, 6 Marnus Labuschagne, 7 Tim Paine, 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Peter Siddle, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Jon Holland

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

Company profile

Company name: FinFlx

Started: January 2021

Founders: Amr Yussif (co-founder and CEO), Mattieu Capelle (co-founder and CTO)

Based in: Dubai

Industry: FinTech

Funding size: $1.5m pre-seed

Investors: Venture capital - Y Combinator, 500 Global, Dubai Future District Fund, Fox Ventures, Vector Fintech. Also a number of angel investors

ESSENTIALS

The flights 
Emirates, Etihad and Swiss fly direct from the UAE to Zurich from Dh2,855 return, including taxes.
 

The chalet
Chalet N is currently open in winter only, between now and April 21. During the ski season, starting on December 11, a week’s rental costs from €210,000 (Dh898,431) per week for the whole property, which has 22 beds in total, across six suites, three double rooms and a children’s suite. The price includes all scheduled meals, a week’s ski pass, Wi-Fi, parking, transfers between Munich, Innsbruck or Zurich airports and one 50-minute massage per person. Private ski lessons cost from €360 (Dh1,541) per day. Halal food is available on request.

Neil Thomson – THE BIO

Family: I am happily married to my wife Liz and we have two children together.

Favourite music: Rock music. I started at a young age due to my father’s influence. He played in an Indian rock band The Flintstones who were once asked by Apple Records to fly over to England to perform there.

Favourite book: I constantly find myself reading The Bible.

Favourite film: The Greatest Showman.

Favourite holiday destination: I love visiting Melbourne as I have family there and it’s a wonderful place. New York at Christmas is also magical.

Favourite food: I went to boarding school so I like any cuisine really.


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