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People during the Dubai Shopping Festival grand opening at Burj Park on its 25th year celebration Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

The 25th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) opened on Thursday night with a spectacular laser display on Burj Khalifa.

Twenty-five years — a timespan in which Dubai set itself up as one of the pre-eminent shopping destinations in the world. Where the city welcomed just about any trend in the retail universe and then reshaped it to be part of the landscape. Be it turning gleaming malls into leisure and entertainment destinations alongside the shopping options, or creating clusters for food trucks, the city’s done it all. And still doing it.

In this retail canvas, the role of Dubai Shopping Festival — also marking its 25th year — cannot be emphasised enough. It was those three words (better known by the DSF acronym) that propelled the city’s aspirations to be the shoppers’ paradise. Sure, other cities, such as Singapore, had done the same and with finesse too, but it was Dubai that managed to reset the game.

Some of the incentives — kilogrammes of gold and awe-inspiring cars to be won through daily raffles — may feel jaded through repetition every year, but in those early defining years, they were what shoppers wanted to be a part of. The lucky ones — and DSF made it possible each year for more than the 30 days of retail therapy.

Shopping is only one part of the implicit messaging that DSF stands for. There’s always the “festival”, and it is this component that Dubai should highlight to anyone who still needs a reason to come to Dubai. This is primarily because the city has truly become a hotspot for experiences, with shopping being just one of them

- Gulf News

But has the time come for Dubai to find a new trend to hitch DSF to? Because promotions in Dubai are no longer about the 30-odd days of DSF. The buying season these days officially starts well ahead — with November’s “Black Friday” promotions and the local variations of the theme.

Then there are the heavy holiday-focused promotions that retailers, offline and online, indulge in during the whole of December.

So, by the time DSF switches on, shoppers in Dubai and those visiting the city would have had a good fill of discounts and “never-before-seen” bargains.

However, “shopping” is only one part of the implicit messaging that DSF stands for. There’s always the “festival”, and it is this component that Dubai should highlight to anyone who still needs a reason to come to Dubai in January. This is primarily because the city has truly become a hotspot for experiences, with shopping being just one of them. It’s this “festival” of experiences that Dubai can build its brand identity over … for the next 25 years. And well beyond.