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Faking it

Faking it

As a new mystery shopper drive targets Dubai shops selling counterfeit goods, Kipp points out that some fake products are more dangerous than others.

October 24, 2010 11:50 by

In a bid to crackdown on counterfeit goods, United Trademarks and Patent Services – an anti-counterfeit organization – is working in coordination with forty mystery shoppers and the Dubai Police. Their aim? “To trick fake-goods traders into revealing where they keep their stock,’’ reports The National.

[Right, because the counterfeit shops in Dubai are so elusive. They don’t call it Dolce and Karama for nothing, you know.]

Jokes aside, counterfeit products in the UAE are a serious problem, for both the industry and the buyer. Take for example the case of counterfeit car parts; purchasing a fake spare part can literally cost you your life. And it does. According to UK-based testing firm Exova’s Ahmad Al Dedy, half of the 6,000 fatalities due to car accidents on Saudi roads are the result of using counterfeit spare parts. The counterfeit car parts industry is significantly large in Dubai, with experts saying that one in every three cars in the UAE use counterfeit parts.

The reason is a combination of penny pinching tactics and pure ignorance: while some people might consciously go for the cheaper option, others are duped by salesmen into thinking they are buying originals. And it is big business. Just this August, authorities busted two warehouses in Sharjah in which 500,000 counterfeit auto parts were found; amongst the fakes authorities found spare parts meant for Mercedes, GM, Toyota and Hyundai cars.

And as dangerous as counterfeits can be for the buyer, they are just as harmful for businesses. According to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition the global trade in counterfeit goods is worth $600 billion (Dh2.2 trillion), accounting for as much as 7 percent of the world economy. Just a week ago, Citizen Watches general manager Noboro Yamaguchi said he was “fed up” of the counterfeit products in Dubai. Speaking to Emirates 24-7 he said, “Yes our sales have been affected (…) Our distributors are having a difficult time because selling of counterfeit products in places like Dubai continue. It is visible everywhere in the Gulf and it’s very difficult to make counter-measures (…) We are fed up with it.”

The counterfeit industry is not just limited to watches, perfumes and car parts but also to university degrees, fake passports and even money (early last year Abu Dhabi police seized Dh.95,000 worth of counterfeit Dh.500 notes). Major Amal Mohammed, head of the documentation unit at the Forensics Science Department, says that the majority of counterfeit instances are committed for profit. For example, she said the majority of fake passports seized are held by people from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, ultimately hoping to enter the country for work.

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