Dubai: “Madam, Karama Market, bags, watches.”
I’ve just come out of Al Karama Metro Station and I’m a prime target for touts out on the street waiting to stop tourists who’ve come in the hope of ‘bagging a bargain’ in Karama.
I’m stopped another two times by salesmen keen to show me their wares before I meet my friend.
I have, in fact, come to check whether the counterfeit market is alive and well in Karama — despite reports of a crackdown on the illegal trade.
It doesn’t take long before I’m approached again. This time I say I’m interested. First we are taken to a shop but then the salesman announces he has more bags in a nearby flat. He helpfully stops the traffic while guiding us to the apartment.
“Why are they in here?” my friend asks him.
“It’s illegal,” he says matter-of-factly.
Inside there’s stacks of bags boasting designer names — Chanel, Prada, Louis Vuitton, to name but a few.
I tell him I’m buying them for a friend in the UK and need to get some prices before I make a purchase.
He says they’re around Dh700 to Dh800 but I’ve a feeling I could easily get a discount if I haggled.
It’s the same story in a number of nearby stores.
The bags are on display and in every store salesmen are keen to tell me they are “genuine” — genuine leather they say when pressed.
I show interest in a leather pink Mulberry bag and I’m told it’s Dh500.
Another bag, a colourful Givenchy is Dh620.
“It’s Dh15,000 in Dubai Mall,” the salesman tells me.
I’m also asked whether I’m interested in buying sunglasses. Again I’m confronted by an impressive amount of designer names including Ray-Bans — Dh100 each I’m told.
In one shop I’m asked if I’m interested in buying a watch. Maybe, I say and I’m asked to follow him upstairs. He quickly produces a tray of watches that aren’t on display and invites me to sit at a table.
I’m shown brands such as Chanel and an AAA Rolex, which is priced at Dh500. They are all good quality, I’m assured.
“Can I take a picture? I’m buying it for my friend in England,” I ask.
The salesman’s not keen. “Too much trouble,” he says.
I leave bustling Karama on a Friday evening empty-handed but with the knowledge I could have come away with any number of fake goods.
It was previously reported that UAE authorities seized eight million fake items in the first six months of 2013. Public awareness is key and the public is urged to report such illegal activities, a senior official said at the time.
Earlier this month the Federal National Council passed a draft law meant to step up efforts to fight fraud and trade in fake goods, with unscrupulous inland and free zone traders facing up to two years in jail, a Dh1 million fine and being named and shamed.
The massive infiltration of counterfeit and pirated goods drains $1 trillion (Dh3.67 trillion) from the global economy and robs more than 2.5 million jobs, according to the International Chamber of Commerce.