(From left) Ian McGarrigle, founder and chairman of the World Retail Congress, Hamad Bu Amim and Alain G. Bejjani at the World Retail Congress press conference in Deira. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai will host the World Retail Congress (WRC) for the first time, a major event that will attract the world’s top executives in the retail industry when it opens in April.

The 10th edition of the event will take place from April 12 to 14 at Madinat Jumeirah.

It is anticipated to attract over 1,000 retailers and industry experts, including Tommy Hilfiger, principal designer at apparel retailer Tommy Hilfiger, Jo Malone, founder of fragrance brand Jo Malone, and William Kim, chief executive of clothing retailer All Saints, among others. Local retail experts that will be present at the event include Alain Bejjani, chief executive of Dubai-based conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim Holding and Patrick Chalhoub, chief executive of Chalhoub Group.

The event will discuss how disruption and innovation is affecting the retail industry; how retailers can effectively engage with customers and the outlook for the global and regional retail sector.

WRC 2016 is expected to help Dubai’s retail industry grow further, according to Hamad Bu Amim, president and chief executive of Dubai Chamber. Some of the things that could boost the industry’s growth include “attracting international players and holding events such as this one [WRC 2016],” he told reporters at a press conference in Dubai on Wednesday.

The growth of the UAE’s retail sector has slowed down over the last year due to factors like low oil prices and a strong US dollar, which the Emirati dirham is pegged to, against currencies like the euro and rouble, making a holiday in the UAE more expensive for European and Russian tourists.

Bu Amim told reporters he expects Dubai’s retail market to have been flat in 2015 and that this is likely to continue in 2016.

Retail sales in Dubai are expected to reach Dh160 billion in the current year, according to a statement announcing details of WRC 2016. Retail and wholesale trade accounts for around 30 per cent of the emirate’s gross domestic product (GDP), Bu Amim said.

By 2017, retailing in the UAE is forecast to be valued at Dh200 billion, growing by 5 per cent on average annually, according to the statement.