Many expats feel Dubai is the best place on earth to buy, wear - and make a statement with - their gold jewellery. Image Credit: Seyyed de L'lata/Gulf News

Gold is, well, gold. A symbol of pure wealth, power and immortality, its appeal, like its very nature, never corrodes. Despite sky-high prices, global demand for gold is projected to be robust in the coming year following a rebound in jewellery purchases to pre-pandemic levels. According to the World Gold Council, 2021 saw a 52 per cent increase in gold consumption over the previous year. And UAE’s demand for gold jewellery, which jumped 57 per cent to reach 33.8 tonnes during this period, led the growth in the region, where total uptake touched 159.9 tonnes - a 41 per cent rise over 2020.

Now for the triggers behind the figures. From ever since we can remember, people from all over the world come to the UAE to purchase jewellery at its legendary gold souks, as it carries a stamp of undisputed purity. The past year too has been no exception, thanks to the UAE’s resilience amid the pandemic. Other reasons that tourists and residents commonly cite is the huge variety of designs available in the UAE, competitive prices even, and great bargains over making charges. Dubai’s reputation as the City of Gold also precedes itself, its Dubai Shopping Festival deals and prizes worth millions making international headlines every year.

So what’s new? If you ask me, there is yet another indicator, more valuable perhaps, where the UAE would top the gold charts – hands down.

Talk to someone from another gold-consuming country or make an assessment yourself on a visit there, and you will know what I mean.

Traditionally, people worldwide, irrespective of their resources, have an almost universal desire to possess gold. For them, gold is not just an investment. It denotes a certain social standing and can have a religious significance too. It is a treasured heirloom and a sentiment that families cherish over generations.

Changing beliefs

Times, however, are changing and the centuries-old values are giving way to new beliefs. And that is precisely the prism in which I make my point.

Many view gold as a liability today. But make no mistake. The glitter has not gone away – as the huge demand for cheaper, “artificial” lookalikes indicates. It’s just that pure gold can cost them dear - in more ways than one.

While steep rates are making gold jewellery increasingly unaffordable, even those that can cough them up will tell you they can ill-afford to keep them in their homes, let alone wear them at will due to safety concerns. The result: All the gold they have amassed, whether acquired, inherited or both, largely remains untouched in bank lockers.

Travelling with gold jewellery has also become burdensome, as any expat flying out of the UAE for a wedding or any other special occasion, will vouch for. They would rather leave their valuables behind than take them along. Reasons include safety issues and the fact that they would be liable to pay heavy duties as some countries have relatively low limits on the permissable amount of gold that can be carried by passengers.

Many expats feel the one country where they can freely and safely use their jewellery is the UAE. They say besides day-to-day usage, the many occasions marked by the resident community provides them the perfect excuse to bejewel themselves. What’s more, the growing appeal of the emirates for destination weddings and other events also allows them to put their gold and diamond collections to good use. According to them, Dubai is the best place on earth to buy, wear - and make a statement with - their gold jewellery. It is a place that lets people enjoy their wealth.

Few would disagree with that.