Dubai: Consumers in the UAE are among the biggest buyers of luxury items in the world, with retailers bringing items that cost several thousand dirhams to the local market.
“Dubai is a healthy market for high-end products. There is demand for high-end fashion, shoes and accessories. It is competing with cities like New York and Paris,” said Khodor Ebrahim, the representative of Alberto Moretti for the Middle East, and managing director of Nuray, a fashion dealership.
Alberto Moretti is bringing its 24-carat velvet gold shoes to Dubai Mall’s Level Shoe District between October and November of this year.
“The velvet of the pump and loafer is covered [with] a gold leaf,” explains Ebrahim. Consumers with a big wallet can purchase a pair for Dh19,500.
Ebrahim expects the shoes to be saleable, as is the case with the Alberto Moretti shoes covered with Swarovski crystals that were sold for Dh11,500 a pair between April and June this year.
“It was sold above expectations. When we ordered it, we were not sure if it will sell or not. But in the first month, we sold 18 to 20 pieces,” Ibrahim said.
The main buyers of the shoes were UAE nationals and Russian tourists, he said, adding that he expects the same for the gold shoes.
For now, 16 pieces of the gold shoes have been ordered, but, Ebrahim said, more will come if the demand continues, he said.
The demand for luxury items in the UAE has improved since the economic downturn of 2008, according to Ibrahim.
“When the crisis hit, there was a drop in the buying of luxury items, especially from the locals. But now, especially in the last two years, it is getting better,” he said.
Tariq Malik, co-founder and managing partner of Momentum in DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre), a luxury vintage watch dealer, said, when his store opened in 2011 he had a stock of 60 watches, and almost two years later, he sells 280 watches.
“Our business is growing. We have increased our stock and the level of clients,” Malik said.
In 2011, Momentum’s vintage watches were sold for up to Dh25,000 a piece, and now their prices can reach a quarter of a million dirhams, according to Malik.
Malik said that his customers approach his store asking for watches that are not easily found locally, and Momentum sources them.
“They see the value of the watches. They see them as an investment because the peak [for the price] has not been reached,” Malik said.
He estimates that consumers in the UAE spend 20 to 30 per cent of their monthly salary on luxury items. “People are spending on luxury items — expats and UAE nationals,” he said.
The majority of the UAE luxury spending this year will be focused on designer ready-to-wear items, expected to reach $1 billion, while the second most favourite among consumers are luxury jewellery and timepieces — sales of which are forecast to amount to $524 million, according to Euromonitor International.
The UAE’s luxury segment, expected to reach $2 billion this year, will be valued at $2.7 billion by 2017.