Category Archives: #middleast

Top Italian beauty brand Korff Milano enters UAE

Top Italian beauty brand Korff Milano enters UAE

UAE Business

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Korff Milano, a leading Italian company known for its upmarket beauty solutions in the pharmaceutical industry, has announced its foray into the UAE market in partnership with BinSina Pharmacies.

The premier European make-up brand marked its UAE debut with an exclusive gala dinner at Address Hotel, Dubai Mall, which witnessed the presence of a large group of dignitaries, high-profile beauty influencers and other senior officials.

As per the deal, the producst of the Italian fashion brand will be available exclusively at BinSina Pharmacies across the UAE.

Combining make-up with pleasure and scientific technology with glamour, Korff Milano aims to be the first choice for women with high standards for skin health and well-being, said a top official.

“We are excited to launch in the UAE, a place known for its up-market beauty trends and high quality products. Our innovative revolutionary formulas are ahead of time, which offer the perfect make-up solutions, making it an unmissable addition to the growing beauty market in the region,” remarked Dr Mohammad Al Rammal, the general manager of Korff Milano in the GCC.

Foreign beauty product firms are increasing their presence in this country as the sector offers an expanding market that is also giving local firms a platform for growth.

According to Euromonitor International, consumers in the UAE spent US$247 per capita on cosmetics and personal care, more than any other country in the Middle East, and ninth worldwide. This is forecast to grow to $294 in 2020.

“Dermatological know-how applied to make-up, trusted active ingredients and extremely close attention to purity of raw materials form the basis of every single product we make. We are optimistic that the brand will be an instant hit with women looking for beauty combined with safety and efficacy,” said Laura May, the commercial drector of Korff Milano.

According to May, the initial product offerings from Korff Milano will include, make-up which will come in high-tech, highly concentrated formulas.

The premium brand is hoping to use its experience and expertise in dermatological innovation and cosmetic pleasure to provide targeted solutions to women in the UAE, he added.

Dr Saleema Shurrab, the general manager of BinSina Pharmacy Group, said: “We are very excited to introduce the Korff Milano collection across our stores in the UAE. It is an internationally recognised brand and the on-going scientific research, new technology and safety and efficiency that the brand offers is in line with our core values.”

“With its holistic approach to strengthen, empower and regenerate skin, the brand is certain to make a statement in the UAE,” she stated.

Featuring evoking ingredients, gentle textures and research oriented products, Korff Milano offers rare and active ingredients that not only delight the senses, but turn a beauty routine in a moment of pure pampering. Korff Milano has grown to become one of the biggest brands for make up in retail pharmacy channels, and is distributed in more than 15 countries globally.-TradeArabia News Service

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Dubai launches world’s first floating drive-thru

Revealed: Dubai launches world’s first floating drive-thru

Aqua Pod allows sea-goers to enjoy food and beverages as they would from a traditional food truck

Dubai has revealed the Aqua Pod concept, the world’s first sustainable floating drive-thru, serving a range of burgers.

Sea-goers will be able to satisfy their hunger while at sea and pull up to enjoy food and beverages as they would from a traditional food truck.

This unique floating drive-through concept comes from 27-year-young, award-winning architect Ahmed Youssef, founder of Aquatic Architects Design Studio (AADS) and creator of the Aqua Pod.

The first Aqua Pod, named Salt Bay, serves up a creative burgers menu, and has been created in collaboration with successful F&B entrepreneur Koussei Kurbaj.

“Realizing the value of the sea, we have set out to create an innovative platform which allows us to tap into the aquatic market, with sustainability at the core of every design decision to preserve the marine environment,” said Youssef.

“In Dubai, we are almost always surrounded by water; Emiratis and residents alike spend significant amount of time at sea. At AADS, we understand the value of the region’s shorelines and beyond, so we saw an untapped opportunity to bring an innovative concept to the UAE.”

He said the Aqua Pod boasts sustainability features, enabling it to act as a waste collector wherever it is located, eliminating the discharge of brine into the sea.

Largely running on electrical power, the Aqua Pod’s operations enable the production of clean water from the sea excluding any negative discharge, allowing this creation to exist without environmental harm, he added.

The Dubai Maritime City Authority has pledged its support by creating a new licence category for this unique floating facility, placing the Aqua Pod as a benchmark for future creations of its kind.

“The support of the DMCA has been instrumental in the Aqua Pod’s successful launch and is a testament to the UAE government’s forward-thinking commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly among youth,” said Youssef.

Spar International to open 40 stores in Saudi by 2020

Foot retail giant to open eight stores in Riyadh this year

Foot retail chain Spar International has unveiled plans to open 40 stores in Saudi Arabia by 2020, as part of a partnership with Riyadh-based Al Sadhan Group to bring the brand to the kingdom.

The firm opened three Spar stores in Riyadh over the weekend, with five more scheduled this year, bringing the total number of stores in the country to eight.

The stores are aimed at a mid-to premium customer base, with competitive pricing offered for global and local products.

Managing director of Spar International, Tobias Wasmuhtm said a growing young population and rising GDP has resulted in steady growth in Saudi Arabia’s retail market.

Spar is one of the world’s largest food retail chains, with over 12,500 stores worldwide and global retail sales of €33.1 billion (2016). The Netherlands-based group has existing stores across the region in the UAE and Oman.

As for Al Sadhan Group, it is a family owned business that operates in sectors ranging from real estate to facilities management and retail.

Chairman of the group, Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Al Sadhan, said the partnership is in line with the kingdom’s 2030 vision.

Al-Futtaim buys M&S retail business in Hong Kong & Macau

United Kingdom : Al-Futtaim buys M&S retail business in Hong Kong & Macau – Apparel News United Kingdom

Al-Futtaim has acquired the retail business of Marks and Spencer (M&S) in Hong Kong and Macau. The sale completed on December 30, 2017 after several discussions, now sees Al-Futtaim become the new sole franchisee for M&S in Hong Kong and Macau. Al-Futtaim has worked in partnership with M&S since 1998 when the first M&S store was opened in Dubai.

“We have substantially reshaped our international business, which has improved profitability and positioned us for growth. As one of the world’s leading retail operators, with strong logistics capabilities and local expertise, Al-Futtaim is the ideal partner for us to develop and grow our business in Hong Kong and Macau,” said Paul Friston, Marks & Spencer’s international director.

“We are delighted to strengthen our long-term partnership with M&S and expand Al-Futtaim’s international footprint to Hong Kong and Macau. Al-Futtaim looks forward to building on our solid foundations as we continue to enrich our customers’ lives and aspirations through the provision of quality products and services in Hong Kong and Macau,” Stephen Rayfield, vice president M&S and sports & lifestyle division at Al-Futtaim said.

The sale follows M&S’s strategic review of its international business in November 2016, where M&S proposed to have a greater focus on its established franchise and joint venture partnerships and operate with fewer wholly-owned markets.

Al-Futtaim operates 43 M&S stores across seven markets in the Middle East, as well as in Singapore and Malaysia. Most recently Al-Futtaim has extended the reach of M&S’s popular chilled food to three markets, and will shortly be opening the first standalone M&S food store in the Middle East. (RR)

Apple to open first Saudi stores

US giant Apple said to be in talks to open first Saudi stores

Tech major is reportedly in licensing talks with Riyadh; first Apple store could open in 2019

US tech giant Apple is reportedly in licensing talks with Saudi Arabia with a view to open its first stores in the Gulf kingdom.

The maker of the iPhone, which sells products in Saudi Arabia via third parties, is in discussions with SAGIA, Saudi Arabia’s foreign investment authority, sources told Reuters on Thursday.

They said a licensing agreement is expected by February, with the first retail store targeted for 2019.

The sources said that Amazon is also in talks with Riyadh on investing in Saudi Arabia, adding that discussions are in earlier stages.

Both companies declined to comment, while SAGIA was not immediately available to answer questions about the discussions, Reuters said.

Souq.com launches Amazon Global Store

New store brings over one million global products to the UAE

E-commerce giant Souq.com has launched Amazon Global Store, which allows customers in the UAE to choose from over one million products from US-based Amazon.com, in Arabic or English, and pay in AED.

Several payment methods including cash on delivery is available, while product categories include apparel, handbags, shoes, watches, kitchen and home goods and many more.

Ronaldo Mouchawar, co-founder and chief executive of Souq, said the store brings global selection closer to customers in the region.

“We will continue to grow this further. We share the same vision as Amazon and focus on providing our customers with best-in-class selection, great prices and a convenient shopping experience,” he said.

The Amazon store also allows customers to see prices in AED inclusive of import fee deposits at checkout (where applicable), without any unexpected fees added later. It offers two delivery options including priority (2-5 business days) and expedited (6-10 business days).

Customers can speak directly with the service team at Souq, a subsidiary of Amazon, in English or Arabic for any queries, and are able to return product for a full refund within 30 days, in most cases.

The store represents Amazon’s confidence in the region, according to Samir Kumar, vice president of international retail at Amazon.

“Our continued investment will provide customers with more of what they want – the largest selection combined with a reliable shopping experience that includes unique products and international brands from the US and beyond” he said.

The Amazon storefront is available on both the Souq website and mobile app.

Souq was acquired for $580m by Amazon in September this year. The online retail marketplace features over than 8.4 million products across 31 categories, and attracts over 45 million visits per month. It has localised operations in the KSA, UAE and Egypt.

Azadea to open 11 new stores at $1.2bn UAE mall

Premier lifestyle retail company Azadea Group has joined hands with Kuwait-based Al Farwaniya Property Developments to open 11 new stores at the $1.2-billion Reem Mall, Abu Dhabi’s new entertainment, dining and shopping destination, located on Reem Island.

Al Farwaniya Property Developments is a joint venture between Agility, Agility-affiliate United Projects for Aviation Services Company (UPAC), and National Real Estate Company (NREC).

As part of the agreement, Azadea will bring 11 influential brands to Reem Mall, covering a total area of more than 4,200 sq m.

The group’s popular franchise brands such as Virgin Megastore, Massimo Dutti, Bershka and Paul will add further value to the mall’s retail offering.

Commenting on the deal, Shane Eldstrom, the chief executive of Al Farwaniya Property Developments, said: “Our mission is to provide shoppers and visitors with a world-class retail experience and this significant new agreement with Azadea Group brings us closer to achieving this ambition.”

“Azadea Group is a highly respected premier lifestyle retail company and they share our passion and commitment of the highest quality standards in customer care. We are very pleased to be enhancing Abu Dhabi’s retail landscape by working alongside them,” noted Eldstrom.

Marwan Moukarzel, the deputy chief executive at Azadea Group said: “Our partnership with Reem Mall embraces our mission to further extend our promise in the wider Mena region of continuously providing entertaining and exciting experiences to our customers and people through great retail space.”

“Overall, we are certain that this will only bring forth great outcomes and further cement our presence in the UAE, especially in the city of Abu Dhabi. We look forward to working with Reem Mall on the launch of this great new project,” he added.

The mega retail destination, located on Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island, is set to offer 2 million sq ft of leasable area comprising around 450 stores, of which 85 will be food and beverage (F&B) outlets, as well as a range of family-focused entertainment and edutainment anchors including Snow Park Abu Dhabi, a destination snow park attraction.

It is located in the Najmat District on Reem Island, the residential and commercial master development by Reem Developers, which will boast a population of 200,000 once completed.-TradeArabia News Service

Spinneys to open 18 new UAE stores by 2020

New CEO Matt Frost said Spinneys has invested $48 million in new headquarters that will feature flagship store

Spinneys will open 18 new outlets as part of an expansion in UAE by 2020, according to incoming CEO Matt Frost.

Frost, who replaces current CEO Jannie Holtzhausen on January 3, said that the 18 stores will be “either Spinneys or Waitrose.”

“Ultimately, it will be the customers that help us decide that,” he noted, adding that at the moment the plans call for the additional outlets to be located in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

The new openings will see the number of outlets in the region rise to 79 stores, which Spinneys believes will lead to the creation of 2,000 new jobs. Spinneys is forecasting 40 percent growth by 2020.

While Holtzhausen and Frost declined to comment on the possibilities of expansion outside the UAE, Frost said that it isn’t out of the question.

“Ultimately, we’re an ambitious business,” he said. “We have a team that are more than capable of considering expansion outside of the UAE. If it’s right, and it’s pragmatic, and it’s responsible to make that decision, I’m sure we’d be agile enough to be able to take it.”

Frost noted that it has invested $48 million (AED175m) in a new Spinneys headquarters located in Dubai’s Meydan area, which will feature a flagship store and on-site cookery school to assist culinary training and development.

According to Frost, work on the project is already underway, and it is expected to be operational in Q1 2019.

Revealed: 23rd Dubai Shopping Festival dates for your diary

Retail festival will run from December 26 to January 27 2018, say organisers

The 23rd edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival will start on December 26 and run until January 27, 2018, it was announced on Monday.

Organised by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), the latest edition will feature a number of retail promotions and sales offering “unbeatable deals and discounts”, a statement said.

It will also offer the opportunity to win prizes from luxury cars and gold to cash at the daily mega raffles, the statement added.

The festival will also include concerts by international and regional stars, fireworks shows and a range of free-to-attend family-oriented activities in malls, and retail activations themed under Beauty & Perfume, Gold & Jewellery, and Apparel & Fashion platforms.

Niketown to open at Dubai Mall in 2018 – sources

Image Credit: Atiq-ur-Rahman/Gulf News

Dubai: Nike is planning a major overhaul of its retail offering in Dubai, according to four people familiar with the matter, with a huge new store slated for 2018.

The world’s biggest sportswear maker will open a Niketown in Dubai Mall sometime next year, said the individuals, who asked not to be identified because the information is not public yet.

In a significant shake-up of its retail offering, the new store will set in motion a reshuffle of its two existing spaces at the mall.

The opening of Nike’s new flagship shop, expected to be located in the space that Kinokuniya Bookstore left in February 2017, will pave the way for the existing Jordan Brand store to move in to the space Nike is vacating on the ground floor. A Nike Lab store, the company’s high-end retail concept created in 2014, will then open in the old Jordan store.

The Nike Lab store will feature limited edition collaborations and other rare footwear and clothing.

Dubai will become the ninth city in the world to acquire a Nike Lab, joining Milan, London, Tokyo, Chicago, Paris, New York, Shanghai and Beijing.

The new flagship Niketown store is expected to be one of the brand’s biggest globally, according to three people associated with the store.

“It will most likely be Nike’s largest store in the world,” said one footwear industry individual familiar with the negotiations.

The biggest Nike store in the world is currently in the UK: Niketown London covers approximately 42,000 square feet over four floors.

The space that Kinokuniya Bookstore vacated in February is 68,000 square feet, according to the company’s website, meaning that the Nike store would be significantly larger if it took the whole space.

According to a quarterly report released in June 2017 from Dubai Mall owner Emaar, the company currently charges Dh680 per square foot, with an occupancy rate of 99 per cent across its flagship regional malls.

At this average rate, not factoring in any discounts or special rental agreements, Nike would be expecting to pay over $12 million (Dh44 million) every year to lease the entire space.

In an emailed statement to Gulf News, Sun & Sand Sports said that they were unable to “confirm or provide any information at this stage.”

According to one individual familiar with internal discussions at Sun & Sand Sports, the sportswear retailer came to an agreement with Nike to revive the Niketown brand for its new Dubai Mall flagship store.

Since 2013, the US company has been moving away from the Niketown label, renaming its Niketown in San Francisco to simply Nike San Francisco.

Over the last two years, the UAE-based Sun & Sand Sports has been aggressively expanding its business, with plans to open 500 Sun & Sand Sports-branded stores between 2015 and 2022.

Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Galeries Lafayette to open stores in Istanbul, Kuwait

Galeries Lafayette plans to open a second store in Istanbul and its first in Kuwait City in 2019, tapping into high-spending shoppers in the Middle East.

“These two projects give further substance to our goals of consolidating our positions in the Middle East where we will have a network of eight stores,” Nicolas Houze, chief executive of the family-owned group said in a statement on Monday. “(It will) bring us closer to our objective of having around 20 stores in international markets within five years.”

The 7,500 square metre Kuwait City store is located in the Assima Mall, a high-profile shopping centre close to the city’s central business district and will be operated under a franchise with Ali Bin Ali, a family-owned retail and luxury goods group.

The second store in Istanbul is spread over 6,000 square metres in the Vadistanbul shopping centre and is operated under a franchise with DEMSA group, a Turkish retail specialist.

The Galeries Lafayette group, known for its flagship Boulevard Haussmann store in Paris, also has stores in Berlin, Jakarta, Dubai, Beirut and Beijing.

It opened a first store in Istanbul in May 2017 and is preparing to open a store in Doha, Qatar in 2018.

In a report on the global luxury goods industry this year, Deloitte listed the Middle East as a major growth market, with high-spending in Qatar and Abu Dhabi particularly driving sales for major brands.

Work starts on new $380m super mall in Abu Dhabi

Retail giant Majid Al Futtaim says City Centre Al Jazira will be its first in the UAE capital

Construction work has started on a new AED1.4 billion ($380 million) lifestyle destination in Abu Dhabi, with an opening slated for 2021.

An official greound-breaking ceremony has taken place for City Centre Al Jazira which will include 153 stores, a Carrefour Hypermarket, a Magic Planet family entertainment destination, a fitness centre, as well as indoor and alfresco dining choices.

Total leasable area is expected to be 80,500 sq m within a built-up area of 215,000 sq m, said operator Majid Al Futtaim in a statement.

The project is a joint venture between Majid Al Futtaim and Al Jazira Sports and Cultural Club.

“We believe in empowering our community, and we are thrilled to partner with Majid Al Futtaim which will allow us to have the opportunity to have a major role in building a new lifestyle destination in the heart of Abu Dhabi,” said Saeed Mohamed Bin Butti Al Qebaisi, chairman of Al Jazira Investment.

“We are delighted to partner with Al Jazira Sports and Cultural Club to bring our first ever City Centre mall to the capital,” added Ghaith Shocair, CEO, Shopping Malls, Majid Al Futtaim – Properties.

He said the new super-regional mall is scheduled to open its doors in early 2021 and is part of Majid Al Futtaim’s plan to increase its total investment in the UAE by AED30 billion by 2026, taking its total investment in the country to AED48 billion.

In addition to City Centre Al Jazira, the company recently announced the up-coming My City Centre Masdar, set to open by 2019 in the capital.

First BENTLEY standalone boutique opens in Dubai

The Al Habtoor Group is proud to bring together two world-class brands under one roof, Bentley, and St. Regis Dubai Polo, the world’s first ever equestrian resort located at the Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club.

The brainchild of Mr. Mohammed Al Habtoor, Vice-Chairman and CEO of Al Habtoor Group, the idea of building the luxury boutique was born over a year ago and after consultations with Bentley UK, the boutique opened on 27th October, making it a powerful addition to the whole Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club. Bentley has long been associated with Polo in the UAE. Over the years it has been sponsoring many high-profile polo events, including The Dubai Open, which is played at The Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club.

Dubai registers $55.5bn property deals so far in 2017

Dubai Land Department chief says data shows ‘increasing demand’ across real estate sectord

Dubai Land Department (DLD) on Monday announced that the total value of real estate transactions for the first nine months of 2017 reached AED204 billion ($55.5 billion), achieved through 52,170 deals.

It said there were a total of 37,633 transactions for land, residential units and buildings, generating a value of over AED88 billion.

There were also 11,699 mortgage transactions worth AED102 billion and 2,838 other transactions worth AED14 billion.

Sultan Butti bin Mejren, director general of Dubai Land Department, said: “The data clearly shows an increasing demand across all property categories, including land plots for various forms of real estate development, as well as buildings and residential units, which means that we are attracting a wide variety of investors.”

He did not give a year-on-year comparison.

Bin Mejren added: “We expect the market to remain on this upward trajectory of sustained growth, and to see demand continuing to diversify across various real estate categories. The momentum of the market is being driven and sustained by several factors but particularly the upcoming launch of Expo 2020 Dubai.”

The latest DLD report shows that the land category attracted AED143.40 billion worth of investment, achieved from 11,169 transactions across sales, mortgages and other transaction categories. Building sales generated 5,014 transactions with a total value of AED12.72 billion, while 36,000 transactions for residential units of all types crossed the AED48.77 billion mark.

The report also revealed the top ten real estate sales areas in Dubai, with Burj Khalifa taking first place in terms of value with 1,650 transactions worth AED6.239 billion.

Business Bay followed in second place with 2,754 transactions worth AED5.570 billion, while Dubai Marina was ranked third place with 2,596 transactions totalling AED5.357 billion in value.

In terms of mortgages, Palm Jumeirah topped the list with 578 transactions exceeding AED11.38 billion in value, followed by Business Bay and Dubai Marina.

Gucci opens new Gucci Kids store in Dubai at Dubai Mall

Italian luxury house of Gucci has recently opened a new children’s clothing store in Dubai at the Dubai Mall. The store features Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele’s signature style. The store stocks the complete range of products for kids of the brand.

Saudi jeweller L’azurde signs deal to buy rival

Saudi jeweller L’azurde signs deal to buy rival

Retailer says agreement inked to acquire 100% equity stake of Izdiad Commercial Company of Arabia

Saudi jewellery giant L’azurde has announced plans to buy a competitor operating in the affordable luxury sector in the Gulf kingdom.

L’azurde for Jewelry Company said in a statement that the board has approved the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Tamkeen Industrial & Trading Company to acquire 100 percent equity stake of Izdiad Commercial Company of Arabia.

L’azurde, which raised SR477.3 million ($127 million) from its initial public offering in 2016, makes gold and diamond jewellery in Saudi Arabia and Egypt and distributes to wholesale markets in 52 countries, mainly in the Middle East.

The statement said the duration for the MoU is for a period of eight weeks from the signing date, extendable on the parties’ agreement.

It added that the transaction final price is subject to certain conditions and the outcome of the legal, financial and commercial due diligences and signing the final share purchase agreement between the parties.

The transaction is expected to be financed by bank credit facilities and cash generated from operational activities.

Harvey Nichols to open new store in Doha

Harvey Nichols to open new store in Doha

Luxury retailer Harvey Nichols has confirmed plans to a new store in Doha. The department store group said it has signed a licence agreement with Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana Group to open an outlet in Doha Festival City.

The 7,432 square-metre store is scheduled to open early 2018 and will sell an “exclusive edit” of fashion, homeware and beauty brands. It is the first high-end, international department store to be confirmed as a tenant by Doha Festival City. Upon completion, Doha Festival City Mall will be Qatar’s largest shopping mall with a gross leasable area of some 250,000 square metres.

It will house 550 outlets including 85 restaurants and cafes, the country’s first-of-its-kind Entertainment Zone, which will include VOX Cinemas and a snow park and will feature around 8,000 parking spaces. Phase one of the mall was completed last March and included the construction of Qatar’s first IKEA store.

Doha Festival City

New Balance to open 40 new stores across Gulf

New Balance to open 40 new stores across Gulf by 2020

The athletic shoemaker sees strong demand for its style of trainer throughout the region

New Balance, the Boston-based maker of trainers and running shoes, is planning to aggressively expand its presence in the Gulf region, increasing its store count to 50 by 2020, its regional manager has said.

The announcement came as the footwear and athletic clothing manufacturer opened its first flagship store in the Middle East at Dubai Mall.

“The launch of this store is the pinnacle of our progress in the Middle East, but it is also just the start,” said Stuart Henwood, Country Manager for the Middle East and India, New Balance.

Henwood says he has been very encouraged by what he has seen since the store had its soft opening around one month ago.

“This is a prime mall, and for the brand to be in this location is key from a sales perspective and also from a marketing perspective,” he said.

The senior executive, who has previously run the company’s Asian business, refused to confirm how long New Balance had to wait for the highly sought-after retail space (Dubai Mall has a waiting list of years in some cases for brands looking to open stores there), or how much New Balance was paying to be in Dubai Mall.

“It’s an important statement to be here,” Henwood said.

New Balance, founded in 1906 in the United States, currently has 10 stores across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, Henwood said.

“Opening this store in Dubai Mall has encouraged us to open more stores, and working with the Apparel Group has been a big benefit,” he said.

Aggressive push

The Apparel Group is a franchisee partner that operates brands such as Tim Hortons, Tommy Hilfiger, and Nautica, holding exclusive relationships with different malls throughout the region.

“We are always looking at expanding our global footprint, and looking at emerging markets,” Henwood said, in reference to the brand’s aggressive push throughout the Middle East.

“There’s good business to be done here,” he added, noting Saudi Arabia’s large population and the willingness of young people in the Gulf to spend significant amounts of money on shoes.

As a result, Saudi Arabia will see at least one new store open in the next three months in Riyadh, whilst the further 39 that Henwood has touted to arrive in the next three years will be across locations in Saudi, Kuwait, and Egypt among others, according to Henwood.

Kuwait’s Alshaya invests in Alabbar’s e-commerce platform Noon

Kuwait’s Alshaya invests in Alabbar’s e-commerce platform Noon

Retail franchise operator acquires stake in soon to be launched online marketplace

Kuwait-based retail franchise operator MH Alshaya Co has acquired a strategic stake in Noon, the region’s new e-commerce platform, it said on Thursday.

Additionally, Alshaya said it will become a seller on Noon’s marketplace platform, listing a portfolio of international brands covering the fashion, health & beauty and home and lifestyle categories.

The company did not say how much it paid for the stake in Noon, which is set to launch later this year.

Alshaya becomes the latest large retailer to list its products on Noon, which serves as a digital platform for retailers to reach online customers in the Middle East.

Mohammed Alshaya, executive chairman of Alshaya, said: “We see great value in our partnership with Noon, which complements our existing online channels. We are impressed by Noon’s capabilities, and we are excited to partner with the Noon team to present a winning value proposition for the region’s online shoppers.

“Our partnership with Noon will allow us to expand our customer base, reach new market segments, and participate in the next level of growth in regional e-commerce.”

Mohamed Alabbar, founder of Noon, added: “It is our privilege to partner with Alshaya and give our customers access to Alshaya’s leading international brands. Noon brings a new business model for e-commerce, developing a strong supply chain that benefits regional businesses. We will work with the region’s leading brands and retailers to help them grow their business through Noon.”

In July, Faraz Khalid, the former co-founder and managing director of fashion online retailer Namshi, was appointed CEO of Noon.

SOUQ.com to purchase Wing.ae marketplace for merchants and couriers in the UAE

SOUQ.com today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Wing.ae, a marketplace for merchants and couriers in the UAE, providing innovative mobile and web-based user-friendly delivery solutions for businesses and individual consumers. SOUQ.com previously invested in Wing.ae and will be acquiring 100% of the company.

Wing.ae now has the full backing of SOUQ.com, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, and this investment demonstrates the continued commitment of all three companies to provide SOUQ.com customers with a world class experience. Wing.ae will continue to invest in growing its same and next day delivery service in the region, enabling greater convenience for Wing.ae’s customers, including SOUQ.com.

Ronaldo Mouchawar, SOUQ.com CEO & Co-Founder, comments: “At SOUQ.com, our customers will remain our key focus and we will continue to deliver an exceptional online shopping experience. Fast dependable delivery is key to this, and Wing.ae provides SOUQ.com customers with more convenience for their same and next day delivery. With Amazon’s support, we are putting all our efforts in providing an ever-improving shopping experience for customers in the Middle East.”

“The UAE is a leading e-commerce and smart hub in the region, and in this demanding business we work to fill the logistics supply gaps to offer customers the excellent service they want as fast as possible,” says Muzaffar Karabev, CEO and Co-Founder of WING.ae. “With the support of SOUQ.com, Wing will accelerate investments into our technology, infrastructure and regional coverage to provide innovative delivery solutions and to make online shopping for SOUQ.com customers and merchants even more convenient.”

UAE’s Al-Futtaim said to be in talks to buy M&S business in Hong Kong, Macau

UK retail giant Marks & Spencer reportedly in discussions over deal for Hong Kong and Macau operations

UAE-based conglomerate Al-Futtaim is reportedly in talks with UK retail giant Marks & Spencer for the possible purchase and franchising of its business in Hong Kong and Macau.

The UK’s Financial Times said the talks could see Al-Futtaim become the sole franchisee for M&S in Hong Kong and Macau, adding that M&S has operated in Hong Kong since 1988 and has 27 stores in the city.

Al-Futtaim has worked with M&S since it opened the British retailer’s first store in Dubai in 1998.

The deal covers only the company’s retail business and its Hong Kong sourcing operations will remain wholly-owned, the FT added.

Virtual reality: the Middle East mall of the future

Digital innovation is revolutionising the retail landscape in the Middle East – and not only online

The growth of retail in the Middle East has been nothing short of remarkable. London, Paris, Milan and New York still inevitably dominate the global shopping scene, but as pioneers in the retail space, emerging markets such as the Middle East are becoming very much the watchword for innovation.

But whilst the retail scene is a crucial catalyst for attracting footfall in the Middle East, as the digital economy develops, bricks-and-mortar locations need to evolve to stay relevant for future decades. Technology clearly plays a central role in this. With the rise of e-commerce in the region, it is now more important than ever that the physical mall develops and keeps apace with the changing demands of the consumer.

Take the success story of Majid Al Futtaim’s Mall of the Emirates, for instance. One can easily spend a day inside Mall of the Emirates; you can eat, drink, go to the cinema and even go skiing all before you have even thought about shopping. And this experience is far from unique. The Beach in Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Residences (JBR) also seamlessly integrates commerce and entertainment, combining shopping, the sea and an outdoor cinema.

With the UAE’s population expected to grow to 10 million by 2030, aided by more expats and Expo 2020 tourism, the retail destination/proposition as an integrated social, entertainment and leisure destination is likely to boom. After 50 years of operating in the region, this is something Atkins is seeing more of — both in the retail space and wider sectors.

A blurring of lines, with buildings becoming multi-functional and multi-faceted can be seen in some of the region’s most important projects, such as the Burj Al Arab, Bahrain Trade Centre, Durrat Al Bahrain and the Dubai Opera. Creating an integrated retail and leisure centre destination is critical to fuse the social and urban space. And it is the customer experience that is driving this approach.

Motorola, for example, has created a personal shopping device where shoppers can scan their items as they select them, significantly reducing checkout time. Beauty retailers such as Sephora are experimenting with a virtual reality mirror, enabling shoppers to test different eyeshadows and lipsticks without applying them to their skin.

Big data will help retailers understand and market to their consumers better, suggesting products that may be relevant even before the customer has walked through the door.

All of these aspects will make the physical retail outlet more efficient. Checkout space will be reduced because customers will be able to complete transactions virtually from inside the dressing room or on their mobile phones, eliminating the need to queue.

Whilst e-commerce is growing in fortitude in the region (bolstered by the likes of Amazon’s acquisition of Souq.com), we still see the need for interaction with the product. The Middle East has a culture that favours the personal experience, and so whilst technology won’t replace this, it can still absolutely enhance it.

What we predict in years to come is how the experience will change. For example, instead of going to a car showroom to see a range of models, customers will be able to interact with virtual car models instead of physical ones. The need for an extensive physical stock may become redundant, thus streamlining and reducing the retail space to make it more profitable.

Car parks may also become redundant. The real estate footprint for car parks alone is currently extensive and costly. In the future, we will see more sophisticated transport offerings, with an increased choice of public transport, and autonomous vehicles reducing the need for large amounts of land dedicated purely to the housing of private cars. And less space for cars means more space for retail and opportunities to generate more revenue.

But of course, whilst there are numerous opportunities that technology presents to the Middle East retail sector, this is not without its challenges. Unlike their developed counterparts, shopping destinations in the Middle East have one major issue to contend with: the climate. With temperatures well into the mid-40s in the summer months, how should retailers respond to the natural environment?

This poses both a problem and an opportunity. Whilst shopper footfall increases in the summer as tourists and residents seek sanctuary in the cool environments of the malls, engineers and designers need to ensure that all adjoining infrastructure is set up to cope with the extreme temperatures.

Customer experience and comfort fundamentally remains key. Most amenities need to be enclosed, with covered walkways and transport infrastructure located close by. Those shopping areas that have outdoor elements, such as Citywalk and Boxpark in Dubai, require careful thought and planning to ensure they remain attractive, year-round destinations.

The future of retail in the Middle East is far from a one-size-fits-all approach. The digital world is fundamentally changing the way we shop. No longer are malls simply a collection of physical stores or somewhere to go for a few hours at the weekend; they are becoming fully integrated communities that fuse together social and urban environments. For the Middle East to compete on the world stage, it will be vital that the retail sector embraces digital innovation offline as well as online.

Abercrombie & Fitch to open first store in Jeddah

Abercrombie & Fitch to open first store in Jeddah as part of Middle East expansion

0The new store will launch in the Red Sea Mall in September and will offer the brand’s Autumn/Winter collection for men, women and children.

The expansion is part of a franchise agreement between Majid Al Futtaim Fashion and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Majid Al Futtaim introduced the Abercrombie & Fitch brand to Kuwait in 2015 by opening stores at 360 Mall and The Avenues, followed by a flagship store in Mall of the Emirates. Two further stores opened in Qatar at Doha Festival City and Mall of Qatar in March 2017. Including the launch in Saudi Arabia, Majid Al Futtaim partners with Abercrombie & Fitch on a total of six Abercrombie & Fitch and three Abercrombie kids stores in the Middle East in a mix of franchise and joint venture arrangements.

The 728 square metre store in Jeddah will open in a new extension of the Red Sea Mall.

Fran Horowitz, chief executive of Abercrombie & Fitch, said: “We are looking forward to bringing our unique Abercrombie & Fitch store-based brand experience to our customers in Saudi Arabia, and complementing our existing omnichannel capabilities, supporting our goal of providing our customers with the ability to engage with our brands, whenever, wherever and however they choose to do so. We are proud to have Majid Al Futtaim as a partner to drive and support our continued expansion throughout the region.”

The franchise agreement will see the brands eventually expanding into Oman and Bahrain.

Emaar announces plans for new Dubai Hills Mall

Emaar Properties has unveiled plans to build a new mall in the Dubai Hills Estate, one of the largest master-planned communities being developed in Dubai, UAE, in joint venture with Meraas.

Scheduled to open in late 2019, Dubai Hills Mall will feature 2 million sq ft of leasable space spread out over ground and first floor levels, more than 750 retail and food and beverage outlets, family entertainment.

The mall will also feature a cineplex, a 65,000-sq-ft hypermarket, seven anchor retail experience stores, and dedicated parking spaces for over 7,000 vehicles.

Located on the corner for Al Khail Road and Umm Suqeim street, the mall can be seamlessly accessed from Downtown Dubai, Emirates Hills, Dubai Marina, Arabian Ranches and other nearby communities.

The architecture and interiors take inspiration from the concept of a central courtyard with a series of interconnected streetscapes. The angular layout provides easy orientation and a clear focus on the central space for events and special features. The exterior boulevards and concert spaces offer more leisure options, making the mall a perfect escape for all types of visitors, Emaar said.

Abdulla Al Habbai, group chairman of Meraas, said: “As the centrepiece of Dubai Hills Estate, a Smart city of the future, the Dubai Hills Mall will bring incredible value to the mega-development and further energise Dubai’s retail sector.”

Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, said: “Integrating advanced technology features with the principles of a regional mall, it will be a socially and culturally inspiring space for people, young and old, residents and visitors, to meet, connect and relax.”

The mall complements the destination’s high-end residential, commercial and office spaces, chic hospitality offerings, enriching leisure facilities and its prestigious golf fairways.

Dubai Hills Estate includes a championship golf course and a central park surrounded by 4,400 villas and townhouses, and 22,000 apartments. – TradeArabia News Service

Emaar Launches New Retail Haven In Dubai Hills

In collaboration with Meraas, Emaar Properties has unveiled Dubai Hills Mall project, a family retail district within master development Dubai Hills Estate, slated to elevate the emirate’s retail offering upon completion in 2019.

The highly-anticipated destination will boast over 18.75ha of gross leasable area accommodating some 750 fashion and dining outlets.

Complementing the lifestyle landmarks of the location, the venue will also attract visitors with four major family entertainment and leisure centres, including a cineplex, outdoor concert area, hypermarket and seven anchor retail experience stores, among others.

Mohamed Alabbar, chairman, Emaar Properties, said, “Dubai Hills Mall will stand out in the retail sector, and support the tourism and hospitality sectors through highly engaging leisure and entertainment attractions.”

UK luxury retailer Fortnum & Mason closes its Dubai store

The multi-level store in Downtown Dubai was opened in 2014

British luxury retailer Fortnum & Mason has closed down its store in Dubai, it confirmed on Thursday.

Located in Downtown Dubai, the multi-level store was opened in 2014 as Fortnum & Mason’s first location outside London.

However, the brand said in a brief statement that the slowdown in the economy had led to the outlet’s closure last month.

“Due to the well-documented ongoing challenges with market conditions in Dubai, we have made the considered decision with our partner Al Khayyat Investments (AKI) that we will cease trading on the 9th of July,” it said.

“Fortnum’s will continue to be an English brand with a global palate. Our products are available to our customers in Dubai and around the world as part of our offer on fortnumandmason.com,” it added.

The British brand started in London in the early 1700s, and is most famous for its tea, confectionery and hampers.

In a statement, AKI also confirmed the news but added that it will continue to be a “key market leader for our other international brands”.

According to its website, the other food and beverage brands in the company’s retail portfolio include Il Caffe di Roma, Espressions – that also features Lavazza products and Burger Fuel.

Despite the softening in regional economic conditions, consumer spending in the UAE is growing strongly, according to recent research released by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Spending is expected to exceed $261bn in 2021, compared to nearly $183bn in 2016, the report found.

The research, based on recent data from Euromonitor International, revealed that consumer expenditure per household during 2016 in the UAE (around $103,000) was the highest when compared to other GCC countries.

Looking at consumer spending in the UAE in 2016, while housing was identified as the top category with $75.7bn, food and non-alcoholic beverages came second with $24.8bn worth of spending during the year.

Marks & Spencer’s flagship store has re-opened in Dubai

New dining options and food hall at British retailer in Dubai Festival City Mall

Following a major revamp, Marks & Spencer’s flagship store in Dubai Festival City Mall has re-opened. For the first time in the UAE, you can now take a swift break from shopping at M&S and experience what the retailer is calling a premium, table-waited dining experience at the M&S Café.

The new dining experience is offering up a range of mid-retail therapy goodies, including pastries, smoothies, soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas and even British favourites including fish and chips (see Pierchic’s claims to the world’s poshest fish and chips here) and afternoon tea.

But the relaunch hasn’t just focused on the café alone. M&S has also launched its Food Hall, showcasing more than 1,200 premium grocery brands and lines. From fresh fruit and veggies to oven meals and daily staples, M&S is bringing its signature British quality to Dubai Festival City.

There’s also a brand-new M&S Home department, with the widest range of the brand’s homewares in the UAE. Expect new bedding and towel ranges, crockery and crystal glassware, for example. All of which will go alongside the store’s existing range of fashion for men, women and kids.

We’re hoping the M&S Food Hall will be stocking its bottles of Belgian chocolate milkshake – they are unbelievable.

Open Sun-Wed 10am-1pm; Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. Dubai Festival City Mall, www.marksandspencerme.com (04 206 6466).

Xiaomi opens Mideast’s first store in Dubai

Chinese technology company, Xiaomi, is focusing on offline stores to boost sales after suffering setbacks at the hands of local competitors over the past two years.
The firm was the top seller in China in 2014 and 2015 but lost ground to Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Apple last year.
This year, the company has moved back into the top five ranking worldwide with a year-on-year growth of 58.9 per cent in the second quarter, according to research firm International Data Corporation’s (IDC) estimates.
“2017 has been a good year for us. We have become number two in India and number four in China. We initially started with an online model but one of the key principles of Xiaomi is selling at near cost. We realised that we could open our own stores and sell the products at an online price, without losing money,” Donovan Sung, director of product management and marketing at Xiaomi Global, told Gulf News on Thursday after opening its first authorised Mi store in the Middle East in partnership with its regional distributor, Task. (Mi is the abbreviation and the logo of Xiaomi Inc.)
The company also unveiled two new smartphones — Mi 6 and Mi Max 2 on Thursday.
The 1,500 square feet Mi store at BurJuman Centre in Dubai is with an initial investment of more than Dh2 million. “We open stores where there is high traffic. If we were selling only mobile phones, then customers would come every two years. Once you have more than 300 products displayed, we find that more customers come often to find out what new products we have,” Sung said.
Ravi Matthew, deputy CEO and General Manager of Task, said that step by step, Xiaomi aims to bring all its ecosystem to this region. While the company is best known for phones, it has invested in 77 start-ups and now offers air purifiers, drones, TVs, speakers, TV set-top boxes, electric cycles, robots and robot vacuum cleaners.
“We are looking for space in other malls in the UAE. We will be opening three more outlets in Dubai by end of this year. We are also planning to have stores in other emirates also,” he said.
Offline sales
He added that offline sales will be quite significant for the company. In India and China, only 30 per cent of the mobile phone sales come from online while the other 70 per cent come from offline. The percentage of online smartphone sales is much lower than that in the Gulf. So, the offline market is “very important for us”.
The Chinese company is planning to open three new offline stores in Egypt in the next two months.
Sung said that it has 140 offline Mi retail stores in China and hopes to have 1,000 shops in China and 1,000 abroad over the next three years.
“Our focus is still on smartphones but IoT [internet of Things] is important because we want to offer a full range of services to our fans. The smartphone will be the centre and everything can be managed through the phone,” Sung said.

Fashion retailer Max Fashion opens first store in Malaysia

OFFERING high quality fashionable products at great prices, Max Fashion has launched its first store in Malaysia at IOI City Mall, Putrajaya.

Max Fashion is part of the Landmark Group, which is one of the largest retail conglomerates in the Middle East and India with its headquarters in Dubai, UAE.
The store was launched by Landmark Group group director and board manager Ramanathan Hariharan. Also present was artiste Scha Al-Yahya.
“Max Fashion started in Dubai in 2004 and this year marks our 13th year in the fashion and footwear industry.
“We offer our customers trendy and fashionable items but at very reasonable prices,” said Ramanathan, adding that Max currently has a total of 400 stores with 10 million loyal customers.
Offering well-designed products at a bargain, Ramanathan believes there is an immense potential for growth and is looking forward to expanding to other parts of the country, especially in the Klang Valley.
“I believe this is the right time for our brand to enter the Malaysian market and I am very excited to engage with the customers,” he said.
Max Fashion hopes to provide the best shopping experience for their customers.
“We also want our customers to have a memorable shopping experience, so we broadened the scope of products to not only include clothes for men and women, but also trendy footwear and accessories,” he said.
In the next six months, Max Fashion will open several more stores in the country, specifically in the Klang Valley, and is working on an online store within the next year.

$1bn Abu Dhabi mall on track for 2018 launch

UAE-based Gulf Capital said more than 76 per cent of the work has been completed on its $1-billion retail venture coming up in Abu Dhabi and is on track for opening by the end of 2018.
Al Maryah Central, located at Al Maryah Island, is a joint venture project between Gulf Capital and the US-based Related Company.
The project is progressing well, on tack and on budget. It will open by the end of next year, reported Gulf News, citing Gulf Capital’s top official.
“The construction will finish in September next year and we need a bit of time for getting approvals from the regulatory and governmental bodies before we open the mall,” stated CEO Dr Karim Al Solh.
The 2.8 million sq ft mall will feature the first Macy’s outside of the US, the first Bloomingdale’s in Abu Dhabi and 20 specialist Al Tayer stores as part of the 400 store retail offering.
In addition, Al Maryah Central will include 100 restaurants and cafés, a 21-screen Vox Cinema with Imax and a host of other attractions. Subsequent phases of the development will include residential units and a hotel in two high-rise towers.
According to him, the mall will have a mix of entertainment and dining that will drive a lot of traffic.
“About 20 per cent of the mall will have food and beverage component and 10 per cent entertainment. That is important because you just can’t have retail alone,” he noted.
“Apart from this, we are bringing a number of new brands to the region. This will be a unique mall on par with what you see in the US or Europe,” explained Al Sohl.
On the leasing activity, Al Solh said 50 per cent of the retail space is already leased with a number of new potential customers showing interest. “We are expecting 70 per cent of the mall to be leased by the end of this year,” he told Gulf News.
The new shopping mall will be linked to the adjacent property, The Galleria Mall, which opened in 2013 and was also developed by Gulf Related, said Al Sohl.
On its regional projects, the company chief said its residential project in Saudi Arabia will be built in phases due to slowdown in the economy. The firm is building 520 units including villas, town houses, and apartments.

Dubai prepares for three-day shopping bonanza

Dubai retailers are gearing up for a three-day ‘Super Sale’ in the emirate starting Thursday May 18.

More than 750 retailers across the emirate – more than 250 brands – will slash prices, knocking between 30 percent and 90 percent off products.
Some of the brands offering discounts include Guess, Steve Madden, Kurt Geiger, Roberto Cavalli, Galeries Lafayette, Furla, Missoni, Boutique 1, Scotch and Soda, Balmain, Aldo, Toms, Birkenstock, Charles & Keith, Nine West, Desigual, Al Jaber Optical, IDdesign, Marlin Furniture, Porsche Design and Disney Fashion.
More than 1,000 retail outlets across Dubai will offer discounts on a range of electronics, jewellery, toys, homewear, furniture, apparel and fashion.
The pre-Ramandan sale is organised by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).

Sheikh Mohammed launches Dubai’s new $1.7bn mega-project

Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed has announced the launch of Marsa Al Arab, Dubai Holding’s latest tourist destination development in the emirate.
The $1.7 billion (AED 6.3bn) mega-project, spread across 4 million sq. ft, will be developed on new two islands on both sides of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. Marsa (Arabic for marina) Al Arab is expected to be completed by 2020.
One island will be dedicated to entertainment and family tourism, while the other comprises an exclusive luxury resort. The two islands will add 2.2 kilometres of beach frontage, as well as three new hotels and a number of new tourist attractions.
The family resort island will see Jumeirah Group introduce new leisure concepts and services as well as a new family-oriented hotel. To boost guest experience, Wild Wadi Waterpark will be moved from its current road-side location closer to the beach, and will be more than double its existing size when fully completed.
Dubai Holding will also develop ‘Marine Park’, a first-of-its-kind marine life edutainment centre in the Middle East, with a live theatre of a 1,000 seat capacity that will attract world-class shows to showcase various elements of marine life.

Marsa Al Arab will also include a private marina and a yacht club, as well as diverse food and beverage offerings, as well as a helipad.
Complementing Madinat Jumeirah, the development will include a mixed-use convention centre capable of hosting large international conferences and festivals. The convention centre will be supported by a new hotel, offering a selection of services for businessmen and corporates.
The project will also include a large retail space stretching across 20,000 sq. m, which will replace the current Wild Wadi Water Park area.

The shopping centre will consist of international high-end brands, as well as a selection of restaurants and coffee shops to meet the needs of its luxurious shoppers. Marsa Al Arab will also offer 300 sea-front residential apartments in the heart of the development.
Together, the enhanced Wild Wadi and Marine Park will sprawl over an area of 2.5 million sq. ft.
The new family destination will house a dedicated theatre with a capacity of 1,700 seats, which will become home to the world-renowned show Cirque du Soleil for the first time in the Middle East.
Dubai Holding will develop 140 luxury villas on the ‘exclusive private island’, which will include a marina for its residents. Located on the left of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, the luxury villas will be operated by Jumeirah Group. The island will also host a boutique hotel equipped with world-class facilities that reflect ‘Marsa Al Arab’s status as an attractive destination for elite travellers.
Overall, Dubai Holding will add 2,400 hotel rooms to Jumeirah Group’s portfolio, bringing its total offering to 8,428 rooms. There will be 400 new F&B outlets throughout the destination.
The existing hotels in the vicinity will be transformed into a unified tourist destination.
The development will offer pedestrian pathways, a jogging track, large swimming pool and a cycling course, allowing its residents to practice a diverse selection of physical activities.
Location of the two islands – on the left is the luxury island, located behind Jumeirah Al Qasr and Madinat Jumeirah. On the right, the island located behind Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Jumeirah Beach.
Jumeirah Group will offer 10,000 additional parking spaces to accommodate the anticipated influx of visitors, as well as work closely with various government entities and other relevant companies to provide a rapid transport network to interconnect the resorts and entertainment destinations, facilitating fast and easy movement throughout Marsa Al Arab.
The project will break ground in June 2017 and will completed by late 2020.

In addition, Dubai Holding will launch the Dubai Pearl Museum to showcase a historical collection of rare and ancient pearls from the region and worldwide. The Dubai Pearl Museum aims to shed light on the lives of the divers as well as the tools they used to find the precious jewels, reflecting the UAE’s heritage, culture and national pride.
“The launch of this new and ambitious project is in line with the directives of the visionary leadership to provide the finest and rewarding tourist experiences for visitors to Dubai, as well as enhance Dubai’s position as a global tourist destination,” said Abdulla Al Habbai, Chairman, Dubai Holding.
“We are proud of the vital role that Dubai Holding plays in this sector through supporting innovation and contributing to the economic diversification of Dubai.”

(Pics)Apple’s Incredible New Retail Store in Dubai

Boasting unobstructed views of the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa, via a 180-foot wide, artistically designed carbon fiber array of motorized windows, Apple’s latest upscale retail store will be opening tomorrow, April 27th, 2017, at the swanky Dubai Mall in the United Arab Emirates.
Designed in collaborating with Foster + Partners — the same design team behind Cupertino’s brand-new Apple Park headquarters — the Dubai Mall Apple Store features an ever-changing array of 37.5-foot tall windows, overlain with super-strong carbon fiber panels that are capable of meticulously shifting orientation based on the fluctuations of external temperature in Dubai.
“To mitigate Dubai’s climate, Foster + Parters designed eighteen 37.5-foot-high motorized ‘Solar Wings’ that respond to the ever-changing environmental conditions,” the company wrote in its official press release about the grand-opening. “When the sun is at its hottest they cool the store, and in the evenings they open to welcome everyone to the public terrace. Inspired by the the traditional Arabic Mashrabiya, each ‘Solar Wing’ is locally fabricated from 340 carbon fiber reinforced polymer rods, and at 180 feet wide, the 18 panels make up one of the world’s largest kinetic art installations.”
These magnificent carbon fiber windows will also provide visitors an unobstructed view of one of Dubai’s greatest attractions: the Sama Dubai — a spectacular water fountain show that takes place every evening, and is conveniently located right below the Apple Store terrace at Dubai Mall.
Appropriately, Apple in its press release has invited visitors of the new location to enjoy the beautiful fountain array, which can be seen taking place in the first of two YouTube videos below. Also be sure to check out the second YouTube video, which gives us a glimpse of the Dubai Mall Apple Store, itself, and the surrounding area.

The company was sure to emphasize in its press release that the grand-opening of the Dubai Mall Apple Store is a way to draw more attention to its recently announced workshop series — dubbed Today at Apple — which will essentially embody a series of free education courses, focusing on a variety of topics including art, design, photography, and software coding, among other concepts.
“At the heart of every Apple Store is the drive to educate and inspire,” the company said, while adding that “Today at Apple will launch at Apple Dubai Mall and in all 495 Apple stores next month with new sessions across photo and video, music, coding, art and design, and more, led by highly-trained team members.”
The Dubai Mall Apple Store will also host a variety of high-profile events, many boasting live music, conversations with film-makers and photographers, and additional live workshops hosted by some of the world’s leading talent on the subject at hand.

Power cut plunges Dubai Mall into darkness

Dubai Mall, one of the world’s biggest shopping centres, was plunged into darkness on Monday evening after experiencing a power cut for nearly two hours.

According to photos posted on social media, hundreds of shoppers were forced to wander the mall in the dark. Lights went out and escalators stopped working at about 7.15pm local time.
At just before 9.15pm, Dubai Media, which initially announced the power outage, said the power had been restored.
The Dubai Mall issued a statement saying it regretted the inconvenience caused to shoppers and thanking them for their patience.
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority said the outage was caused by a problem with a cable at Dubai Mall Metro Station.
One Twitter user said earlier that shoppers were using the flashlight on their phones to navigate around the mall.
Another said: “Power still out, almost an hour now. No announcements from security or management. Very poor.”

Nautica relaunches in Dubai Mall as it looks ahead to Saudi Arabia

The American fashion brand Nautica relaunched its Dubai Mall store on Tuesday with new partner Apparel Group.
In an interview with Gulf News, Patricia Canavan, Vice President and General Manager — Nautica Licensing, said that there would be two further store openings this year in the GCC.

She added that the brand was targeting the Avenues mall in Kuwait and was looking to launch in Jeddah also.

Nautica, established in New York City in 1983, currently has 12 stores in the Gulf region, and is aiming to add 18 stores in the next five years, according to Canavan.

“From a population perspective Saudi Arabia represents the greatest opportunity for expansion. We are looking at opening in the tier two cities, as well,” she said.

The company also believes that Saudi Arabia also holds the biggest potential for the growth of their online business.

Apparel Group, a Dubai-based retail conglomerate, is the local partner for brands such as Calvin Klein, Cath Kidston and Tommy Hilfiger. It operates over 1,700 stores across the region.

Together, the senior Nautica official said, they have overhauled the flagship store in Dubai Mall.

“We are reintroducing the brand in various ways. It is a new retail concept for us in Dubai,” Canavan said.

The relaunch at Dubai Mall was spurred by the change in partnership, she said, adding that “there was a need to get out of certain locations that may not have been brand appropriate. Certain commercial centres become obsolete over time.”

Canavan said that Nautica was developing its relationship with the Apparel Group, who has the expertise and can give us feedback on the new product as we go and ensures that we do not alienate existing customers.

Dubai will remain the lifestyle brand’s hub, she said, despite Saudi Arabia potentially making up 50 per cent of the company’s business in the future.

This market “has done a better job than most at diversifying away from pure retail experiences,” Canavan said in the interview, noting that the future of malls was about engaging with customers, not simply trying to sell to them.

“Having ski slopes, having fountains, having parks — that’s the future of retail,” she said.

Apple’s third retail store in the country will open in The Dubai Mall on April 27.

The two-level store, located on both the ground floor near Pucci and Jimmy Choo, and the first floor near Paule Ka, will be officially opened at 4pm.
With a tagline “Creativity. Connected.”, Apple is targeting the country’s creative community that includes start-ups, independent art galleries, local app developers, boutiques, cafes and food trucks, according to the company.

This will be the third Apple store to open in the country with others at Mall of the Emirates and Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi.

Landmark Group founders inducted into retail hall of fame

Landmark Group founders inducted into retail hall of fame
The founders of Landmark Group, a Dubai-based multinational conglomerate, have been inducted into the Retail Hall of Fame during the recent 2017 World Retail Congress at Madinat Jumeirah Hotel in Dubai.
Chairman Micky Jagtiani and vice chairperson Renuka Jagtiani were given the award during a private ceremony the the global event.
Micky Jagtiani founded the Landmark Group in 1973 with a single store in Bahrain and has successfully grown it into one of the largest retail and hospitality conglomerates in the region. A constant innovator, he has created and conceptualised over 27 diverse brands, several of which are market leaders today.
The group has over 2,400 outlets across 30 million square feet, catering to a loyal customer base of over 30 million people across the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian subcontinent.
Landmark Group vice chairperson Renuka Jagtiani
Renuka Jagtiani has been closely involved with the group’s business endeavours for over two decades and was instrumental in creating the high-street fashion brand Splash in 1993. During this time, she has guided the
group’s corporate strategy, built its fashion and hospitality business from the ground up, led its expansion into new countries and launched its e-commerce platform.
Over the past four decades, the Landmark Group has established itself as a diversified international retail and hospitality conglomerate.
“Retail for me has always been more than a business, it is a way to life and it is about people who have helped me get here,” said Micky Jagtiani.
“The GCC has been my home for over 55 years; during this time I have seen it become a global powerhouse, thanks to the vision and passion of the region’s leadership.”
Renuka Jagtiani added: “As Landmark, our focus is value, we value those whose lives we touch. The customer is at the heart of our business, and we change and evolve with them.”

Kuwait’s Kamco buys Amazon’s UK warehouse

Kuwait-based Kamco Investment Company on Sunday said it has purchased Amazon UK’s largest distribution warehouse for $77 million (AED281m).

The warehouse in Dunfermline, Scotland, has been leased to Amazon UK Services until October 2031. Amazon employs 2,100 staff at the warehouse, which handles 38 percent of the 143 million packages that e-retailer handles per annum.
Kamco said it aims to achieve a targeted cash yield of 6.50 percent per annum and an expected internal rate of return (IRR) of 7 percent per annum during the investment period.
Faisal Sarkhou, chief executive officer, Kamco, said: “This achievement marks yet another step towards reaching our strategic objectives and future vision to enhance our operational performance and expand our real estate investments platform on a regional and international scale, in a way that is beneficial to our shareholders.”
Company chief investment officer Khaled Fouad said the transaction highlights the acquisition of a new category of income-generating assets that are leased to Amazon, in aim of diversifying sources of income.
Kamco’s alternative investment team currently manages more than $250 million in real estate across 11 regional and international properties.

World Retail Congress opens in Dubai

The World Retail Congress (WRC) begins on Tuesday in Dubai amid weak consumer demand, caused by a strong dollar and job concerns. Brick-and-mortar retail has also suffered as ecommerce begins to grow in popularity across the region.
The 11th edition of the event, being held at the Madinat Jumeirah from April 4 to April 8 under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will see over 1,500 delegates in attendance.

With opening remarks from Sultan Al Mansouri, the UAE’s Minister of Economy, and Majid Saif Al Ghurair, chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, attendees are expected to be addressed over the course of the four day event by industry leaders such as Jo Malone, founder of Jo Malone, Ravi Thakran, group president of LVMH for South & South East Asia and Middle East, and Robert Welanetz, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Properties.

Developers in the UAE are currently hoping to capitalise on the growing number of visitors to the country in the run up to Expo 2020.
Dubai hopes to attract 20 million tourists that year, an increase of around five million in the next three years.

Retailers are currently focusing on delivering unique experiences to differentiate their product, whilst utilising insight into consumer behaviours and attitudes to stay agile and retain customers.

A government emphasis on the tourism sector, competitive deals, and tax-free salaries spurred a decade-long boom in the retail sector in Dubai.

However, in an Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) economic report released at the end of 2016, Monica Malek, Chief Economist at ADCB, said, “The rise in inflation over our forecast horizon should continue to contribute to the soft consumer-spending backdrop. Wider consumer sentiment is expected to remain weak due to job uncertainties.”

Hamad Bu Amim, president and CEO, Dubai Chamber, said in a statement: “After the tremendous success of the 10th World Retail Congress in Dubai, the chamber is very pleased to host the 11th edition here again. This year’s theme is very topical and reflects the changes in the retail sector, especially the growing trend of ecommerce. More so, Dubai’s retail market is forecasted to surpass $52 billion in sales by 2020 with average annual growth of more than 8 per cent.”

Amazon clinches deal to buy Middle East online retailer Souq.com

Amazon.com has agreed to buy Middle East online retailer Souq.com, thwarting a last-minute bid by Dubai billionaire Mohamed Alabbar’s Emaar Malls, first revealed by Arabian Business on Friday.
The value and terms of the agreement, which deal adviser Goldman Sachs called “the biggest-ever technology M&A transaction in the Arab world”, were not disclosed.
But sources with knowledge of the matter said Amazon was paying less than Emaar’s $800 million offer, making it lower than the $1 billion valuation at the time of a Souq.com funding round last year.
One of the sources said on Monday Souq.com would have had to break an exclusivity agreement with Amazon if it had accepted the Emaar Malls offer at this stage.
Reuters reported last week that Amazon had agreed in principle to buy Souq.com, which was co-founded 12 years ago by Syrian-born entrepreneur Ronaldo Mouchawar.
“By becoming part of the Amazon family, we’ll be able to vastly expand our delivery capabilities and customer selection much faster, as well as continue Amazon’s great track record of empowering sellers,” Mouchawar said in a statement on Tuesday.
In a deal document seen by Reuters, Goldman said the acquisition would accelerate Amazon’s entry into “attractive Middle East countries with significant growth potential given e-commerce only represents (roughly) 2 percent of retail sales”.
The deal was endorsed by the Dubai government, which is increasingly focusing on technology, as the emirate expands its retail footprint in the region.
Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum said it showed the city state’s position “as a regional and global hub for the world’s biggest and leading organisations”.
The acquisition is expected to close later this year, according to the joint statement on Tuesday.
For Alabbar, who made his name as chairman of Emaar Properties, the Dubai government-linked developer of the world’s tallest building, losing out on Souq.com is unlikely to crimp his ambitions to move into e-commerce.
He announced last year he planned to launch his own e-commerce firm Noon in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, a soverign wealth fund.
Emaar Malls, the retail unit of Emaar Properties, is the operator of the Dubai Mall, which accounts for around 50 percent of the emirate’s luxury goods spending and is one of the Middle East’s largest shopping centres. South Africa’s Naspers Ltd, which has a 36.4 percent stake in Souq.com, has declined to comment on the Amazon deal. Tiger Global Management also has a stake in Souq.com.
The value of the deal was not disclosed, but was in the region of $580 million, according to sources.

Confirmed: Emaar Malls submits $800m bid for Souq.com

Emaar said the acquisition would be in line with the strategy to align e-commerce with physical shopping
Emaar said the acquisition would be in line with the strategy to align e-commerce with physical shopping
Emaar Malls has submitted an $800 million bid to take over e-commerce giant Souq.com, the company has confirmed.
In a bourse statement, Emaar Malls confirmed that it lodged the offer with Souq.com’s shareholders “in line with the strategy to align e-commerce with physical shopping”.
The statement, signed by Ahmad Thani Al Matrooshi, said the bid has not been accepted as yet.
“If the bid is approved, the impact on Emaar Mall’s profit for the quarter in which the acquisition is completed and for the year 2017, will not be material,” the statement added.
Quoting sources familiar to the bid, Arabian Business reported at the weekend that Emaar Malls, a unit of Emaar Properties, had lodged the bid to take over Souq.com, which is thought to have included a $500 million convertible deposit.
Last week Amazon agreed in principle to a 100 percent takeover of Souq.com, in a deal believed be worth around $580m.
However, it is understood that Souq has an “exclusivity” clause as part of its negotiations with Amazon – meaning it would not be able to accept a counter offer while still in sale talks.
Sources suggest the Amazon deal is being driven by New York based Tiger Global Management which has a substantial stake in Souq.
However, other small shareholders in Souq are yet to commit to a sale that could see Souq undervalued by almost $220 million, in comparison to the offer from Emaar Malls.
Souq’s smaller shareholder include South Africa’s Naspers Ltd, Standard Chartered Private Equity, IFC (a member of the World Bank Group) and Baillie Gifford.
Souq.com raised $75 million from Cape Town-based Naspers in March 2014, in a deal it said at the time was the largest for an Internet-based business in the region. But it is not clear whether Naspers is now backing the Amazon deal.

UAE’s Al-Futtaim plans new Ikea stores in Middle East

UAE-based Al-Futtaim is seeking to open new stores in Egypt while stepping into Oman, according to a senior company executive.

“We are currently working on expansion in Muscat, Oman, and are still studying the possibility of opening more stores in Egypt and some other countries,” John Kersten, managing director, Ikea, told Arabian Business.
At present, Al-Futtaim holds franchise rights for the UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Oman. In the UAE, it will open its fourth store by early 2019, while its first store in Egypt’s Cairo Festival City was opened in 2013.
According to Kersten, Ikea has reduced prices on 2,500 items this year in the UAE – a practice that it follows year-on-year.
“If you take the catalogue from the UK or the US and the UAE, you will have some pleasant surprises there. We do lower our prices every year,” he said.
The company executive revealed despite 2016 being a tough year, sales have not dropped in the UAE.
“Normally, if times are getting worse, it is getting better with Ikea. We had a quite a magnificent year,” he said, without providing details.

UAE’s Paris Gallery plans to open 30 new stores

Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Fahim, CEO of Paris Gallery Group of Companies.
UAE-based retailer Paris Gallery has announced plans to open 30 new stores across the Middle East over the next five years.
The company said in a statement that its expansion would focus mainly on the Gulf region and would see its workforce grow to about 5,100 employees, up from 3,500.
The total projected retail area in operation will reach 3.2 million square feet by 2021, it added.
The expansion plan will take the total number of Paris Gallery stores to 116 stores by 2021. To date, its stores number 86 branches across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq, Azerbaijan and other countries.
Paris Gallery Group focuses on the luxury products sector and has a wide range of products including perfumes, cosmetics, watches, eyewear, accessories, leather goods and fashion, from more than 800 global brands.
Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Fahim, CEO of Paris Gallery Group of Companies, said: “The group has recorded steady growth in the retail and distribution business since 2006… We are keen to study and analyze the market to identify trends and opportunities in the retail sector.”

New FENDI Kids store opens at Dubai Mall

Founded by Adele and Edoardo Fendi in 1925, the eponymous Rome-based fashion House has gained a new space in Dubai. A playful, bright and stylish new Fendi Kids flagship store has launched on the second floor of The Dubai Mall next to Dolce & Gabbana Kids shop. The new venue has opened its doors to the public in February 2017.

Saudi’s Alhokair plans to build Egypt shopping mall

Saudi-nased Alhokair franchises brands such as Zara and Marks and Spencer in the kingdom.

Saudi-nased Alhokair franchises brands such as Zara and Marks and Spencer in the kingdom.
The board of Egypt’s Medinet Nasr for Housing and Development (MNHD) has approved an offer from a unit of Saudi Arabian retailer Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair to build a mall at MNHD’s Teegan development, the firm said on Tuesday.
Under the proposed deal, Alhokair, which franchises brands such as Zara and Marks and Spencer in the kingdom, will own and operate the mall for 50 years before transferring it to MNHD, who in the meantime will receive a share of the mall’s revenues.
MNHD said the new mall would have a gross leasable area of 68,500 square metres and would take three years to construct.
“Such deals should help MNHD to significantly improve on its financial performance and balance sheet, enabling it to unlock significant value from its unutilised land bank,” Cairo’s Naeem Brokerage said in a note.
The Teegan development is located in the east of the Egyptian capital, across from Cairo International Airport, and will ultimately cover 3.5 million square metres.

Emaar Malls reports strong growth in 2016

Emaar Malls reports strong growth in 2016
Emaar Malls reported a growth in fourth-quarter (October to December 2016) net profit by four per cent to AED 452 million ($123 million), compared to the Q4 2015 net profit of AED 435 million ($118 million).
Emaar Malls (DFM: EMAARMALLS), the shopping malls and retail business majority-owned by global property developer Emaar Properties, has recorded a net profit of AED 1.874 billion ($510 million) during 2016, an increase of 13 per cent over the full-year 2015 net profit of AED 1.656 billion ($451 million). FY 2016 revenue recorded a growth of 8 per cent to AED 3.227 billion ($879 million) compared to FY 2015 revenue of AED 2.992 billion ($815 million).
Emaar Malls reported a growth in fourth-quarter (October to December 2016) net profit by four per cent to AED 452 million ($123 million), compared to the Q4 2015 net profit of AED 435 million ($118 million).
Revenue for Q4 2016 increased to AED 835 million ($227 million), which is 8 per cent more than Q3 2016 revenue of AED 774 million ($211 million).
The shopping malls assets of Emaar Malls – The Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina Mall, Souk Al Bahar, Gold & Diamond Park and the community shopping centres – welcomed 125 million visitors during 2016, similar to annual footfall during 2015.
The Dubai Mall set a similar footfall level of 80 million visitors for three consecutive years despite ongoing expansion in and around the mall, reiterating its reputation as the world’s most-visited retail and lifestyle destination. The gross leasable area (GLA) occupancy levels averaged 96 per cent during 2016.
Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Malls and Emaar Properties, said: “As a global business and leisure hub, Dubai is among the top preferred destination for international retailers to expand their operations. Emaar Malls has created a dynamic platform of shopping malls that catalyse the growth of Dubai’s retail sector while offering the nation’s residents and visitors with exciting retail and leisure choices.
“In today’s digital age, we are focused on leveraging advanced technologies to ensure that our visitors have memorable experiences at our malls. We will continue to introduce new innovations, strengthened further with digital strategies to ensure that our malls stay ahead of the curve, and redefine the retail sector.
“The positive growth of the Dubai economy, led by the smart, futuristic vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, will continue to power our growth. We are now expanding our footprint with next-generation malls in Dubai Creek Harbour and Dubai Hills Estate that will make the city the first choice for retail.”

Costa Coffee opens first Middle East drive-through Hotelier Middle East

Costa Coffee opens first Middle East drive-through Hotelier Middle East
Costa Coffee opens first Middle East drive-through

Located near Kite Beach on Jumeirah Beach Road in Dubai, the two-storey Costa Coffee building is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Emirates Leisure Retail chief operating officer Kevin Zajax said: “This is a milestone occasion, and the latest offering in our response to what our customers are looking for. They want to be able to get a handcrafted Costa Coffee at any time of the day, sometimes without leaving their car.
“We brought Costa here in 1999 with the first store outside the UK, and now we have the first purpose-built Costa drive-through in the Middle East.”
The staff at the new site have visited London to work in the brand’s UK drive-throughs and “to learn how it is done”, added Zajax
Costa is developing its food offering with a new ‘made fresh on site’ deli range that is rolling out to more of its UAE outlets and adding new brews to the coffee menu, including the Old Paradise Street limited edition.
And to celebrate the launch of the new drive-through, Costa is giving away Jeep Wrangler. Every customer that spends AED30 (US $8) between January 9 and February 9 will be entered into the prize draw.

Mall of Qatar launches ‘softly’, less than 50% of shops open

Mall of Qatar, Doha’s new shopping concept with 500,000 sq m of retail space, officially opened its doors to the public on Saturday, with 220 stores launch on day one of the “soft opening”.

Officials said the mall is 99 percent leased, with 92 percent currently in the fit-out phase.
“We are opening over 220 stores on our first day, which is 60 percent of the gross leasable area,” said Ahmed Al Mulla, CEO.
He added: “After working towards a goal for many years, seeing it come to life is one of the most incredible experiences. Mall of Qatar marks a new era of shopping in Qatar – merging shopping and entertainment at our regional super mall.
“Mall culture plays a large role in Middle Eastern, and especially GCC society. We are pushing the boundaries and elevating the mall experience with our brand new, and innovative offering.”
When fully operational, the sprawling complex will boast over 500 shops including 100 F&B outlets.
As well as shops, the mall will premiere the world’s first resident troupe – offering mall-wide entertainment with 52 weeks of shows on a 360-degree custom developed revolving stage, as well as a multilevel family entertainment complex.
The mall will also feature a 19-screen Cineplex inclusive of IMAX’s revolutionary laser projection and 12 channel immersive sound system on the region’s largest screen. The cinema will also feature the latest 4D projection technology screen, 7 VIP screens, an 8-lane bowling alley, and in-theatre gourmet food services.

Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall embarks on $810m extension project

Marina Mall Abu Dhabi, owned by the National Investment Company (NIC), has announced that it will be breaking ground in early 2017 on major mall improvements worth AED300 million, in addition to a new AED3 billion extension.
Marina Mall Abu Dhabi will be undergoing a renovation and growing in size with a 120,000 sq m extension designed by DP Architects, the company behind the design of Dubai Mall.

The new extension plan will be divided into two parts, the north and south side of the mall, which will include the latest retail and F&B brands and new market entry brands exclusive to the mall.
Marina Mall Abu Dhabi will also expand its car parking facilities, a statement said.  
Jihad Dirani, head of leasing at Marina Mall Abu Dhabi, said: “We are entering an exciting phase of Marina Mall’s development, as we continue our journey to deliver an excellent visitor experience. We are currently in the process of selecting the right suppliers and contractors; whilst looking to evolve our leasing portfolio.” 
In 2006, the mall went through major expansion plans, which included the addition of a revolving restaurant tower, as well as an increase in mall facilities and retail outlets.
Marina Mall is also home to Marina Eye – Abu Dhabi’s first and only observatory wheel.

Amazon said to consider acquiring Dubai-based online retailer for $1bn#Economy

Souq.com is known as ‘Amazon of the Middle East’
Amazon does not have big foothold in Middle East (Reuters)

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Amazon.com is in preliminary talks to acquire the Dubai-based online retail market Souq.com for about $1bn, according to a Bloomberg News report.
Souq.com, known as the “Amazon of the Middle East,” currently offers roughly 1.5 million products across the Middle East, primarily in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Amazon does not have much of a foothold in the region.
In September, Souq.com hired banker Goldman Sachs to find potential buyers for at least 30 percent of the company, according to the Bloomberg report. Tiger Global Management and South Africa Naspers – the company’s primary investors – also may consider selling their shares, it added.
Big e-commerce ventures appear to be trending in the Middle East. Two weeks ago, Dubai business magnate Mohamed Alabbar announced the launch of a $1bn regional e-commerce site in a joint venture with the Saudi sovereign wealth fund and other Gulf investors.
Noon.com is to go online in January with a 50 percent investment from the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund and the rest from about 60 investors led by Alabbar, who also heads the emirate’s real estate giant Emaar.
He told a news conference that distribution centres are being set up in the Saudi cities of Riyadh and Jeddah, along with a giant warehouse the size of 60 football stadiums in Dubai.
“We expect to become a world player but will concentrate firstly on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” said the president of Emaar, the company that built the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
With an initial inventory of 20 million products, the online retailer aims to expand to Egypt, the Arab world’s most-populous state, at the end of next year or early in 2018.
Alabbar, cited by Bloomberg, said Noon would be traded on stock markets in five to seven years, and aims to be profitable within five years.