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Fashion and Design

Due to the rise in GDP, increase in tourists visiting the UAE and strong purchasing power among the middle and upper-class income households, the retail sector of luxury goods and fashion items are forecasted to grow significantly in future years

In 2014 the total expenditure on furniture, home interior, clothing and footwear in the UAE was USD 3.3bn (BMI, United Arab Emirates Retail Report, 2015), and non-grocery retailers accounted for 57% of the market (Euromonitor, Retailing in the United Arab Emirates, 2015). Shopping for fashion and design items are concentrated in malls but internet retailing and hypermarkets have gained some ground. In 2014 supply and demand for online shopping started to develop.

The UAE consumers
The demand for brand and luxury goods within fashion and design is increasing and the UAE has locals and a growing expatriate population with great purchase power looking for brand and luxury goods. Consumers is up-to-date with fashion trends and their needs are changing, for which reason more sophisticated shopping offers are desired (Euromonitor, Apparel and Footwear in the UAE, 2015). Shopping in the UAE is tax free and the third-largest reason why tourist comes to the country. Chinese tourists have lately discovered the UAE as a shopping destination and they are expected to impact the market in a positive direction (Euromonitor, Apparel and Footwear in the UAE, 2015).

Brand Awareness and Luxury Goods
Brand awareness sets the agenda in UAE and iconic luxury brands have a leading position. An increased focus on quality and a younger generation with brand-consciousness generates great demand for luxury goods within apparel, footwear, jewellery and timepieces. However, a new trend within this field is affordable luxury goods which are increasing significantly. Apparel and footwear has seen growth in recent years. In 2014 USD 2.1bn was spent in this sector – this is a 10% increase from 2013 to 2014 (BMI, United Arab Emirates Retail Report, 2015). This growth is forecasted to continue due to increase in tourism and a growing expatriate population with high incomes who are willing to spend on fashion apparel and footwear. Investment in innovative design is essential for the UAE due to Expo 2020 and the ambition of being a global fashion hub.

Shopping malls
Shopping options are concentrated in malls, which are widely spread throughout the UAE. The UAE is currently home to around 40 malls and more are under construction, e.g. Mall of Arabia. Dubai is leading when it comes to shopping malls, however, Abu Dhabi is developing in this field since the emirate is aiming to compete with Dubai as a shopping destination (Euromonitor, Apparel and Footwear in the UAE, 2015). The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping center with astonishing 80 million visitors in 2014. The mall is planned to add 304,000 square meters of retail space. The Mall of the Emirates is growing too and USD 1bn is being invested over the next five years to add more restaurants and shops.

The Design and Fashion Council and Dubai Design District
Dubai aims to be a fashion and design hub, and the government of Dubai has invested in areas within this field. The Dubai Design District and the Design and Fashion Council (DDFC) are initiatives that strives to attract foreign design companies. Dubai Design District is a Free Zone that approaches to firms within fashion, design and luxury goods. In Dubai more than 20 free zones exist offering business licenses to foreign-owned businesses. Each free zone is designed around one or more business industries and offers comprehensive services for doing business in UAE and company set ups. A company set up in a free zone is attractive, as it offers 100% ownership, tax exemption and office and warehouse facilities.


Commercial Advisor

Ms. Sarah Bo Hansen 
+971 50 211 9580