Dubai: Apple has finally announced that it is opening its two new stores in the UAE - at Mall of the Emirates in Dubai and Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi - on October 29.
But Apple did not comment on the size of the stores as speculation was rife that the Dubai store will be the biggest in the world.
Creative barricades around the stores are done by Arabic calligrapher Samir Sayegh, which says “Marhaba in Arabic, which means hello in English”.
The opening of new Apple stores has been the talk of the town since Tim Cook visited Dubai Mall on February 2, 2014.
Speculation has been rife since the company, which does not have an official Apple store in the country, may be looking to open a flagship store at either Dubai Mall or Mall of the Emirates in Dubai and at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
Sukhdev Singh, vice-president at market research and analysis services provider AMRB, said it is a “good move”.
Apple will get a great launching pad in Dubai. From Dubai’s point of view, it shows the flexibility from the government side to attract foreign companies to set up shop in Dubai and use it as a launching pad. “Both ways it works well,” he said.
Nikola Kosutic, research manager at UAE Euromonitor International, told Gulf News that the impact on the retail sector is going to be huge and they will be the most anticipated Apple stores in the world.
“Whatever Apple needs is available in the country - a young population and the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world. It is a big story,” he said.
Apple stores will “negatively impact” the Apple resellers in the UAE as majority of the sales will be transferred to the Apple-branded stores.
“If resellers relied on Apple devices, it is devastating news for them. Now, the retailers will have to focus on other categories and accessories to boost their sales. We don’t think that the opening of the stores is going to impact the sales of Samsung phones, the top vendor in the region,” he said.
The biggest change, he said is going to happen in the retail segment. “We don’t expect a major shift in shares from Samsung to Apple phones but Apple’s market share will definitely increase but not significantly,” he added.
Retailers are somewhat unfazed by the opening of the news stores but they agree that the brand awareness and the market share will increase.
Nadeem Khanzadah, head of omnichannel retail at Jumbo Group, said that the stores will have a positive impact on the market as Apple is an iconic brand. Having a store will bring in latest technology in the best manner possible and will help the entire market to improve.
“Initially, the sales will be impacted as lot of people, out of curiosity, will visit the stores. Eventually, Apple stores will have their own customers and we will have our own loyal customers,” he said.
Overall, it will be good for the Apple brand, said Neelesh Bhatnagar, CEO, Emax. “Customers will look Apple in a ‘different way’ when they visit our stores. All the brands do their concept stores and it is more to do with branding and the variety of devices,” he said.
Prices of Apple devices are currently slightly higher at the retail stores than the official quoted prices by the US company.
For example, the new iPhone 6S (16GB) is quoted by Apple at Dh2,599 for online but retailers are selling it at Dh2,699.
On the pricing aspect, Khanzadah said that even though Apple is selling the devices at a slightly lower point than the resellers, but they do not offer bundles and freebies.
“There will be some customers who will go to Apple stores and no doubt about it but, at the same time, there will be some who will prefer to get freebies and bundles,” he said.
Bhatnagar expects that when the customers want to buy an Apple device, they will go to a multi-brand store.
Mahesh Chotrani, assistant vice-president of Jacky’s Electronics, doesn’t expect the new stores are going to impact its sales.
“Wherever Apple has opened its own stores globally, the sales of multi-brand retail stores also have gone drastically up. When customers need to compare devices, they will definitely come to multi-brand retail stores and for the bundle offers,” he said.
Apple said the Dubai store’s launch will take place at 4pm while the Abu Dhabi store at 7pm.
The new stores will be opened from 10am-10pm from Sunday to Wednesday and from 10am-9pm from Thursday to Saturday.