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A matter of pride

A matter of pride

Why are Middle East travelers turning into UK shopaholics?

September 17, 2008 3:22 by

A recent report claims that Middle East travelers spent around $1.5bn on shopping in the UK last year. That, for reference, is roughly the same amount investors are pouring into the upcoming Atlantis hotel in Dubai.

According to the Global Refund Index report, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait are the leading markets in terms of individual visitor spend in the UK. The report says that visitors from the Gulf bought, on average, around $4,900 worth of goods from the country in August this year and that a significant amount was spent on luxury items.

But there’s plenty of luxury shopping to be done right here in the Gulf: Saks, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Chanel and so on. Why travel to the UK to buy the same thing?

We recall the story about Harrods opening a branch in Riyadh. Apparently it didn’t do so well, mainly because for Saudis, “shopping at Harrods” implies going to London – and all the prestige that entails – rather than having your Sudanese driver take you down to the upscale malls on King Fahd Road. Maybe that has a lot to do with it.

What do you think?

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1 Comment

  1. Yvonne Courtney on September 28, 2008 9:46 pm

    It’s down to choice. The department stores in Dubai and no doubt elsewhere in the ME aren’t a patch on the original stores in the UK/US, offering a mere fraction of the merchandise available, mostly geared to perceived Arab/Russian tastes, which is perhaps becoming out of date. For those who want something more cutting-edge/avantgarde, you have to go online or hop on a plane, although IF boutique in Dubai is a godsend!


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