Gold is having a busy day going past the highest level so far. It is now trading at $1,617 an ounce. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: UAE gold shoppers can only hope to watch from the sidelines as international gold prices shot up to their highest level this year, now trading at $1,618 an ounce, and also the highest in seven years.

The Dubai Gold Price, which opened Thursday at Dh183 a gram for 22K, could soon feel the heat from the sharp rise in international prices. Local retail rates are set four times daily, with the last one being at 8pm. According to Cyriac Varghese, "Oman retail prices have already reset as soon as it became clear that bullion is inching inexorably towards $1,620. As we speak, Dubai continues to be at Dh183 - but that's definitely changing."

"Prices are ranging upwards of $1,600 whereas the market expectations were around $1,550 - this is the highest ever since 2012," said Abdul Salam K. P., Group Executive Director at Malabar Gold & Diamonds. "This difference between expectation and reality is attributed to the unknown impact of the coronavirus on the global economy.

"We hope the situation will normalize at the earliest."

Shoppers too will be hoping that some semblance of normality returns - it was only a few weeks ago that there was some consumer acceptance of price at above $1,550 an ounce.To suddenly confront $1,610 and over in a matter of days will put them out of buying action for quite some time.