DSP Nirmala Sitharaman
A combo picture shows India's Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and a scene from the popular Dubai Shopping Festival. India announced on Saturday it will follow Dubai's annual mega shopping extravaganza to boost exports, retail hospitality and tourism industries. Image Credit: Gulf News

A mega shopping festival to be held in India will be like no other. Or, actually, it's going to be a bit like the annual Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), a super hit among residents and tourists from around the world.

This plan was outlined on Saturday by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as part of a raft of measures to boost the local economy, push exports as well the housing sector.

All told, it's a $600 billion economic booster to pump-prime subcontinent's economy.

Here's what we know so far:

What is the festival going to be like?

A "Dubai-type shopping festival" has been planned. It will be organised in four destinations across India.

When is it going to be held?

India's Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, said mega shopping festival will be held by March 2020. The festival is aimed to push more "people-to-people" contacts and connections.

What is the Dubai Shopping Festival?

Since it was launched in 1996, the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), organized by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) has been spreading joy and happiness among residents and visitors every year with its great shopping experiences filled with mega promotions and raffles offering amazing prizes. Image Credit: Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment

If you're looking for mega discounts, Dubai is the place to be during this season of shopping extravaganza. It's a 24-year-old tradition for which Dubai has become known in the region and across the world. It's the season of city-wide sales. There's plenty of fun activities for families too. Fireworks are huge part of the festival, usually held during the winter, starting from December and runs for several weeks.

Two of key features of DSF are the mega raffles and sales. Festival organisers pull in the key sectors to take part in the annual event. For example, Dubai Shopping Malls Group offers cash prizes.

The gold and car retailers group also have their own offers. Selected shoppers take part in exciting activities, including a "Spin the Wheel" bonanza.

The Global Village features more than 3,500 outlets showcasing the cultures of 78 countries.

A big part of the festival is the Global Village, which is tourism-retail-cultural destination by itself.

What are the general outlines of Finance Minister Sitharaman's shopping festival plan for India?

The festival is expected to follow the model of Dubai’s annual shopping festival, famous for heavy discounts offered by retailers across the city, especially the popular brands across sectors.

What is India going to do differently?

According to initial report, India’s own mega shopping festival will throw in its own have flavours and tweaks to the mix. Different themes will follow each of the four cities. These are expected to focus on sectors like gems and jewellery, yoga, tourism and textiles and leather.

What Indian cities will host the festival?

It's not clear yet. The Commerce ministry is expected to identify and announce the cities hosting the festival.

Who will benefit?

The government plans to give a booster shot to exports of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through this festival, which is expected to be a potential showcase of the products that India has to offer in the specified themes.

The government expects a “mass on-boarding” of artisans across the country as a result, according to the Indian Express.

What was the reaction of India's industry officials?

Exporters are optimistic. Such a shopping festival offers good trade prospects.

Moreover, the festival could boost job generation. Sectors like hospitality and transport are expected to benefit as a result of a boom in both domestic and international tourism. A spike in tourist inflow will give some boost to the economy.

Some industry officials also said the festival should offer a mix of global and indigenous products — instead of sticking solely to products made in India.

What do naysayers say?

Some analysts point out that if India plans to become the preferred shopping destination of tourists, the country will have to ensure it is able to compete with the likes of Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong.

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Dubai is known for mega discounts during the shopping festival. Image Credit: Gulf News / Ahmad Ramzan

“If the shopping festival is entirely domestic (in terms of the products offered), it is unlikely that it will be a hit," Devendra Kumar Pant, Chief Economist, India Ratings, told the Express. "If you want to make it the destination for South East Asia, you can’t do so when you have Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai a few hours’ journey away and selling global products. You have to have global products in the mix.”

"Dubai is a free port (a region with less strict customs regulations), and if we are looking at competing with it, we will have to compete both on products and duty structures,” Pant added.