OPN 200207 Fake Items-2-1581073984042
Some of the counterfeit products confiscated by Department of Economic Development. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Here’s a thought. Every time you buy a counterfeit handbag or perfume or watch, you are in some way responsible for job losses, poorer infrastructure, loss of tax revenue for government, increase in crime related to illegal activities. If this is not enough of a disincentive to change your habit, here’s more: some categories of counterfeit products such as perfumes and cosmetics can also have dangerous health consequences.

All this and more is the reason why the UAE has zero tolerance for fake goods or the counterfeit market. Year after year, the authorities spare no effort in stamping out this problem. Last year, Dubai Police recorded 297 cases of counterfeiting and forgery, with a market value of approximately Dh2.5 billion, according to the Department of Combating Economic Crimes within the General Department of Criminal Investigations. Again, last year, 119,960 counterfeit perfume bottles worth Dh33 million were confiscated by the Department of Economic Development (DED) from a farm in Ras Al Khaimah in November, while Dh26 million worth of fake car parts were destroyed in a series of raids across Dubai and Sharjah. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the UAE’s efforts in this regard.

Why does the problem persist? It would hardly be a stretch to say that it does so because we as residents are not doing enough to eradicate it.

There are several things wrong with buying fake products, starting with the fact that it means you are weakening legitimate businesses who are spending for intellectual property, safety and conformity to international quality standards. As their products get copied, many brands go under, and people lose jobs. This in turn drains the economy as the grey or black market takes over and the money you spend on a fake bag goes underground and not into helping make the lives of people better in terms of infrastructure and facilities.

There’s also the aspect of crime. Every illegal activity spawns a culture of crime, minor or major.

And finally, there’s the matter of your personal safety. Many categories of fake products are health hazards. Chemicals in fake perfumes, cosmetics and toys can be dangerous as they enter your system. Fake batteries may explode and fake car parts malfunction leading to fatal consequences.

The joy of buying a fake product, and saving a few dirhams, is but fleeting and the damage, long-lasting, and sometimes, irreversible.