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From truffles to watches, UAE luxury retail surges
Emirati customers, tourists lead return to luxury shops; Chocolate truffle worth $272 on the market; Auction houses weigh Dubai vs Doha for art sales.
February 10, 2011 1:11 by Reuters
“The VIP salon is for the private get-away so they don’t have to be exposed,” she said.
Mall of the Emirates, one of Dubai’s largest shopping centres, added over 40 luxury brands in September, while property consultancy Colliers International expected a 30 percent gain in mall space between 2010 and 2013 in Dubai.
Since Chocopologie opened on Dec. 12, it has already sold two of its made-to-order $272 hand-whipped truffles, infused with an Ecuadorian single-estate dark chocolate ganache around a rare French Perigord mushroom.
Mock said she had also received numerous inquiries about the pricey delicacy in the run-up to Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14.
Some other truffles carry names like Antoinette, a dark chocolate heart dipped in white chocolate and French rose water, and Amanda, a dark chocolate with lemon and verbena flavour.
“I work for an international airline and we get chocolates for free. People here buy lots of things that don’t make sense,” said passer-by Matt Ege, a former forex trader and now pilot.
GLITZY WATCHES, HIGH-END ART
But it is not just chocolate that is making a comeback. Dubai’s Rivoli Group, in which Swatch Group owns a stake, sells timepieces with aquatimer chronographs, Dior mobile phones in a jewelled finish, and calf-skin leather bags. It expects sales growth of 15 to 20 percent in 2011.
Abraham Koshy, Rivoli Group general manager, said he had sold “a few” platinum Breguet Double Tourbillion Classique Grand Complication watches, priced at over $440,000 apiece, in recent months. That was stronger than the same period a year earlier, and the luxury segment was performing above expectations.
“Most customers are from high-end households in the UAE, and visitors from the Far East and mainland China,” he told Reuters.
“There is a resurgence in the mechanical segment and watches. People have a preference for precious metals, gold and rose gold.”
Analysts said consumer spending has ticked up in the aftermath of the financial crisis and Dubai’s debt woes, pulled mainly by returning tourists.