A broad demography of Indian and Asian descent, a digital revolution during the COVID-19 pandemic and a relentless acceptance of changing market trends have made Dubai and the UAE a top destination for Indian retailers.
According to panelists at the recent webinar organized by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s representative office in Mumbai, Dubai has rapidly emerged as the chosen market for Indian retailers looking to grow globally as the economy of the Emirate continues to adjust to new market conditions at a stunning pace. Supported by the enterprise and heft of Indian retailers, this makes for a very attractive offering in the global retail environment, experts said.
Increased middle class
Rajiv Podar, President of the IMC Chamber of Industry said that retail sector has been the bedrock of the Indian economy and development in the history of Indian economic growth, with the Indian retail market estimated to rise to $1.75 trillion by 2026, backed by factors such as a rising mid-sized class, rapid urbanization, significantly developing infrastructure and increasing consumer demand expenditure.
If UAE retailer companies like Emke Company, which runs the LuLu brand of hypermarkets and supermarkets across the Gulf region, or jewellers like Malabar Gold, Indian retailers have always played a role in the Gulf retail landscape.
Malabar Gold – which started in 1993 as a small shop in Kerala, now has more than 200 shops in nine countries around the world, including almost all of the GCC and Singapore. Based on Dubai, the annual turnover of Malabar Gold overshadowed Tiffany’s sales revenue in 2017.
And, in the wake of the pandemic, India’s online retail giant Myntra signed a cooperation deal with two of the UAE’s biggest e-commerce sites – Namshi and Noon – underlining the appetite of Middle Eastern shoppers and opportunities for Indian retailers.
The vast strategic advantages offered by Dubai to foreign companies and investors have also been crucial to attracting Indian retailers, said Omar Khan, Director of International Offices – Dubai Chamber. He pointed to recent amendments to the UAE Commercial Companies Act, authorizing 100% foreign ownership of mainland companies as an important move, providing a big market opportunity for Indian retailers seeking to grow globally.
He has described many reasons, including its geophysical proximity to the country and its large Indian diasporas, making Dubai the market of choice for leading Indian businesses and added that Indian businessmen are amongst the largest names of the UAE retail industry.
The need for industry players to solve changing business prime events and rapid digital transformation in the Covid19 period has created new opportunities for retailers all over the world, according to other panelists at this conference including Dinash Joshi, Chief Executive Officer of IBC-IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Mira KulkarNi, founder of Forest Essentials; and Dalip Sehgal, Chairman of NEXUS Malls.
According to Khan, India remains Dubai’s second-largest trading partner with bilateral non-oil trade, touching $10.5 billion in the first half of 2020.