UAE shoppers continue to buy fake goods despite ‘terrorism link’

Shoppers looking for deals on fake goods have said they would continue to buy the products – despite a warning that some proceeds may be used to fund terrorism and organised crime.

Fake watches of prime brand can be found and bought in various places throughout the UAE. Delores Johnson / The National

ABU DHABI // Shoppers looking for deals on fake goods have said they would continue to buy the products – despite a warning that some proceeds may be used to fund terrorism and organised crime.

Organised crime and terrorist groups are using illegal trade to launder money, Judge Jamal Al Sumaiti, director of the Dubai Judicial Institute, had said during a judicial workshop in Dubai on Monday. He urged the public not to purchase these goods, calling the problem a worldwide issue.

But as he was shopping in Al Danah area in Abu Dhabi for a fake watch, P N, 32, an Indian, was sceptical that the warning applied to stores that he visited.

“You can’t accuse these stores,” he said. “Yes, it is counterfeit and that is illegal, but organised crime?

“At the end, the purchaser knows what he is doing and it is his fault for buying that. This is the police’s work.”

P N doubted that the shop he visited would have any criminal connections.

“Crimes and terrorist groups can be funded by many things, this is just one,” he said. “But I don’t believe that this store is part of that.”

M H, 36, an Indian who was in an area where counterfeit goods are sold near Hamdan Street, said he was unaware that items could be used to fund illegal activities.

“I had no idea, but I don’t really know if this is true. It’s hard to see even though it is an official warning,” he said.

“Either way I do not shop at these stores, so I am not involved and it does not concern me. But if I did shop at these stores, this would definitely change my mind. Maybe this is true in Dubai, where the warning came from, but I don’t know about Abu Dhabi.”

While shopping in Karama area in Dubai, Lucie Pilarova, 26, a Czech cabin crew member, said that the quality of the fake items on the market in Dubai would lead her to continue shopping for them, despite the warning.

“On my salary I can’t afford the real thing but I want to look stylish,” she said. “People expect us to look good, but a real one of these is out of my league.”

Samir Ahmed, a 33-year-old Syrian, said he did not think about the implications of buying fake goods.

“For many of us, this is the only way we can afford designer goods. They’re going to sell them whether we buy them or not,” he said.

Saaba Hussein, 37, an accountant from Pakistan, said she and her friends always buy goods in Karama. “We always go as a group and make a trip of it. We always get such great prices and the bags are usually such good quality, as long as you know what you’re buying.

“Fake goods are everywhere, so if we stop buying them, it won’t stop anything.”

nalwasmi@thenational.ae

mswan@thenational.ae