UAE - Two events that happened in the past couple of days confirm what we already know about consumer behaviour in Dubai – that there is always a strong appetite for big brands, and avid buyers are willing to go great lengths to get their hands at the prized catch.

On Wednesday, hundreds of house hunters and real estate agents camped out amidst sweltering heat in the wee hours of the morning outside master developer Nakheel’s sales office to purchase the first available properties on the revived mega waterfront project, the Palm Jebel Ali. Hundreds of villas – costing between Dh18 million and Dh40 million and expected to be handed over in 2027 – were sold out in hours.

The following day, Thursday, the frenzy for another top brand was witnessed at two major malls in Dubai, where thousands of smartphone buyers lined up to be the first to get the latest iPhone 15 models, which are only available for the first time on Friday.

At the surface level, any uninitiated observer can dismiss this as superficial mad rush for branded and luxury items. Or that there is a social currency to it – like in the case of iPhones – where loyal customers rushed to stores to be the first to have the latest gadgets and brag about it.

But understanding Dubai’s consumer behaviour – with its unique diverse population – would reveal that there is a strong economic foundation that supports businesses and give individuals confidence in their purchasing power.

Here are the numbers: Dubai’s growth in first quarter of 2023 is significantly higher than that of some of the most developed countries in the world. The emirate’s real gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2.8 per cent in the first three months this year, as compared to the US economy’s 1.8 per cent growth; as well as OECD countries’ average 1.6 per cent increase, and the European Union by 1.1 per cent expansion. Dubai’s growth is a continuation of the momentum achieved in 2022, when the emirate experienced a 4.4 per cent expansion of the economy.

What we saw in the past couple of days will happen again – it’s a characteristic of a robust economy. Dubai consumers are big spenders because they are empowered buyers.

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