Dubai set to further cement "global shopping destination status" with new annual retail calendar

Comprehensive retail sector strategy developed to sustainably grow Dubai's global competitiveness.

Dubai set to further cement global shopping destination status with new annual retail calendar
Comprehensive retail sector strategy developed to sustainably grow Dubai's global competitiveness as a retail destination for tourists, increase retail spend and drive incremental GDP impact

DFRE's launch of annual Retail Calendar in collaboration with DED and key private sector stakeholders, foundational outcome of the strategy

Dubai, UAE: 27 November 2016: Following an exhaustive review of the competitiveness of Dubai’s retail sector in terms of its global positioning as a ‘shopping destination’ for tourists, undertaken by Dubai Tourism, strategic recommendations spanning priority aspects of the industry value chain were developed in consultation with the Department of Economic Development and key government and private sector stakeholders earlier this year. Outcomes of the strategy cover initiatives to address consumer perceptions, pricing competitiveness, product-mix, experience enhancement, e-commerce and future proofing through digitisation and proactive innovation.

“Retailing remains the dominant economic activity in Dubai with a share of up to 30 per cent in the emirate’s GDP and the sector will play a key role in Dubai achieving its tourism vision of receiving 20 million tourists a year by 2020. It’s important to consolidate efforts across Dubai to offer exceptional and high quality shopping experiences in terms of infrastructure, initiatives and incentives,” said His Excellency Sami Al Qamzi, Director General, Department of Economic Development (DED).

Al Qamzi added: “Along with implementing varied initiatives to enhance ease of doing business and make shopping in Dubai a pleasant experience, the Department of Economic Development has been working closely with public and private sector entities to evolve innovative strategies that would reinforce Dubai as a preferred place to shop for visitors and residents alike.”

His Excellency Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director General of the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said: “Dubai has been continuously growing its standing as a leader in global travel, ranked number four today with the highest average spend per tourist within the economy compared to any other city in the world. Beyond growing tourist volumes, one of the mandates of Dubai Tourism is to significantly enhance the economic value created across all travel related industries to our GDP. Retail is one of the core pillars of our destination proposition, and one that is a key driver of spend within the economy – hence the incredible support from the Department of Economic Development has been paramount to the success of this project.”

“In undertaking this exercise, our aim was to work with the industry towards making Dubai the world’s leading destination for retail-tourism, attracting more traffic and fueling consumption across the shopping precincts, and ultimately accelerating domestic retail industry growth. It has been through exemplary collaboration and joint ownership between the private and public sector that DTCM has been able to deploy a comprehensive list of initiatives to be taken forth to implementation by relevant stakeholders. And today, we are pleased to announce one of the most strategic components – the annual Retail Calendar for Dubai,” added Al Marri.

Set to launch on 26th December 2016 – the opening day of the Dubai Shopping Festival – the Retail Calendar showcases the full programme of anchor retail activities being conducted and promoted at a city-level including shopping related festivals, promotions and seasonal offer periods, mega-sales and clearance events, exclusive retail experiences and activations. This calendar will be actively marketed internationally by Dubai Tourism to targeted markets and audience segments to drive increased traffic to Dubai as the destination for shopping, and will be domestically promoted to drive greater resident engagement and spend throughout the year.

In the creation of this ‘first-of-its kind’ initiative, the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) agency of the DTCM and the Department of Economic Development (DED) have worked integrally with the city’s major retail groups, brands, and mall operators to define the type of events, timings, and durations, aligning with the global retail and fashion cycles, as well as evaluating the largest retail spend drivers across best-in-class global shopping destinations. Stemming from a thorough assessment across sector-related criteria and an exhaustive competitive benchmarking, this Retail Calendar reflects a well-considered 3-pronged approach to combining regional market buying cycles and preferences, and nuanced needs of tourists from specific markets with the seasonality of the global retail supply chain.

Omar Bushahab, Chief Executive Officer of Registration & Licensing Sector at Department Of Economic Development, said: “As the government entity that sets the strategic direction for economic policy in Dubai, the DED is happy to partner with DFRE in ensuring the success of this new retail initiative. The retail sector is one of the crucial engines of Dubai’s rapid economic growth, and continues to be driven by the visionary leadership of Dubai to position the emirate as a unique retail hub, an achievement that would not have been possible without the strong collaboration between government entities and the private sector. We are confident that the Dubai Retail Calendar will further invigorate the emirate’s retail sector by paving the way for more global brands to capitalise on Dubai’s potential to offer unique shopping experiences at any time of the year.” 

Saeed Mohammad Mesam Al Falasi, Executive Director, Retail and Strategic Alliances, DFRE, noted:“With tourism and retail industries being key pillars of Dubai’s economy, the Dubai Retail Calendar initiative combines the strategic objectives of both, driving retail growth domestically, and enhancing the value of Dubai’s shopping experience for tourists. With this calendar of very strong festivals, events and promotions, we expect to incentivise overseas visitors to consciously plan trips to Dubai around these periods. And for our residents, as well as regional market travellers, this is a critical step towards creating a year-round range of rewarding shopping and family experiences to incentivise more frequent visits to retail districts and greater spends. 

“Today, Dubai is unrivalled in the region in terms of our retail offering and ranked only second to London in terms of representation of international brands. Our success is thanks to the unique model of public-private partnership that has yet again been instrumental in the development of this flagship programme for Dubai, and will flourish even further under Dubai Retail Calendar,” concluded Al Falasi.

Anchor Highlights:

1. Dubai Shopping Festival and Dubai Summer Surprises remain the anchor city festivals with more finite dates and durations to enable very focused and high-impact retail promotions that drive greater value for consumers.

2. Being introduced for the first time this year, the upcoming National Day Super Sale will be Dubai’s flagship short and powerful retail kick-start event, announcing the holiday season shopping to the market.

3. Festive periods that have been calendar staples like Ramadan in Dubai and Eid in Dubai celebrations, will be further complemented by promotional activations around Chinese New Year, Diwali and Family Week to attract overseas traffic during their holiday periods.

Further to the consumer-oriented benefits of having a richly rewarding, experiential and well-defined range of retail programmes for year-end engagement, the Dubai Retail Calendar has addressed key industry-related issues largely pertaining to permit and regulatory needs. In keeping with Dubai’s smart-city vision, this initiative caters for building greater sector-wide efficiency and process streamlining with all applications going through the DED promotions permit system. Going forward, rather than applying for multiple permits for festivals and promotions conducted through the year, retailers can participate in all the events listed under Dubai Retail Calendar with just one annual Retail Calendar permit to cover the durations of all the listed activities. Registration for the 2017 Dubai Retail Calendar Permit on the DED permit system will be open on 4th December 2016.

With key retail sector partners being actively involved throughout the strategic evaluation and recommendations finalisation process, DTCM’s initiative to create a sustainable growth strategy for the industry has effectively assimilated perspectives of the private sector and facilitated strong collaborative ownership towards building a more globally competitive shopping proposition for Dubai.

Al Tayer Group CEO Retail, Khalid Al Tayer says:“As one of the UAE’s leading luxury retailers, Al Tayer Insignia relies on the many initiatives created by Dubai Tourism and the Department of Economic Development.  Their combined marketing efforts amplify our own outreach and have made Dubai one of the world’s top shopping destinations.”

Apparel Group Chairman, Nilesh Ved, comments: "Dubai is known for having one of the most evolved retail scenes in the world. Over the last 20+ years, we have seen more traffic during the Dubai Shopping Festival than any other time in the year. We are very excited about the launch of the retail calendar as we believe the retail calendar will further organise the retail industry and attract more and more customers from across the world."

Azadea Group LLC Country Manager, Cesar Moukarzel, says: “The retail sector in Dubai with the support of DTCM through many initiatives such as the Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Summer Surprises etc... has succeeded in promoting Dubai as a world-class shopping destination. Through the unified efforts and vision of all industry partners (DTCM, DED and retail operators), the retail sector is now a major contributor to the growth of Dubai and the UAE economy in general. We look forward to a bright future together through our collaborative and successful partnership.”

Chaloub Group Co-CEO, Patrick Chaloub, says:“One of its strategic outcomes has been the need for a well-developed and effectively regulated annual calendar of retail events aligned with the global industry, to allow for effective marketing of an all-year retail experience for tourists to Dubai to drive incremental spend and consequently increased GDP contribution from the sector.”

Emaar Malls Chief Executive Officer Nasser Rafi, says: “The development of a 2017 retail calendar further reaffirms Dubai’s commitment to the sector and reflects the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai to make the city one of the top tourist and shopping destinations in the world. Dubai is committed to further elevate the retail sector as a pillar of tourism for the city and a foundation for continued economic stability.”

Majid Al Futtaim Properties Chief Executive Officer Shopping Malls, Ghaith Shocair, comments: “Majid Al Futtaim has been a strategic partner of DTCM for almost two decades. In line with our vision to create great moments for everyone, everyday, we are excited and honored to continue our strategic partnership with DTCM and look forward to creating more great moments in 2017.”

M.H. Alshaya Co, comments: “Dubai’s world-class retail sector makes it one of our most important markets, and the city’s retail festivals and events are key to our ability to offer our international customers the widest range of shopping choices with the world’s favourite brands. We look forward to working closely with Dubai Tourism and DED to be part of their dynamic retail calendar for 2017, and in turn driving growth for the entire sector.”

Rivoli Group LLC Managing Director, Adel Zarouni, says: “We are very pleased at the Dubai Government initiative to create and implement retail festivals and events. 2016 has seen immense success because of such initiatives and we, as Rivoli Group, are committed to support and partner these activities. Such well-planned, programmed and delivered events ensure that Dubai is a leading retail destination and a key contributor to the overall growth to the city of Dubai.”

Seddiqi HoldingChief Business Development Officer, Christophe Nicaise says:“It goes without saying that DTCM initiative to create a Retail Sector Committee to ensure that all stakeholders adhere and contribute directly to the Retail Sector Strategy is a key success factor to maintaining the retail growth in Dubai, as well as to reassert Dubai positioning as a dominant force on the worldwide retail landscape, it is not a mere coincidence that the World Retail Congress has called Dubai home for their 2016 Annual Meeting and will do so again in 2017.” 

According to published figures, the size of Dubai’s retail market is expected to expand by 7.7 per cent in 2016, with sales turnover expected to surpass US$52 billion in 2020. 


1. 22nd edition of Dubai Shopping Festival (26 Dec 2016 – 28 Jan 2017)

The biggest shopping and entertainment extravaganza in the Middle East will kick off Dubai’s retail calendar with a wide range of promotions, events and activities. The flagship festival lasts over a month and involves multiple retail and non-retail venues.

2. Chinese New Year (29 Jan – 7 Feb)

A retail event featuring sales at various outlets and targeting specific product categories appealing to the high volume of international visitors during this period.

3. Spring/Summer Collection Launch (10 – 18 Feb)

This event will feature a coordinated launch of new collections from renowned brands to launch the spring and summer season ranges. 

4. Family Week (20 Mar – 2 Apr)

A wide range of retail activities that will focus primarily on families and enhance their shopping experiences in Dubai.  

5. Flash Sale (25 – 27 May)

A three-day sale period allowing retailers to offer their best discounts of the year. 

6. Ramadan in Dubai/Eid in Dubai – Eid Al Fitr (27 May – 28 June)

Features special retail activations and celebrations leveraging the Ramadan and Eid festivities.

7. Dubai Summer Surprises (1 July – 12 Aug)

The much-awaited Dubai Summer Surprises makes the city as lively and vibrant in the summer season as it is during any other time of the year, with a line-up of exciting events and activities, and numerous retail promotions.

8. Back-to-School (13 – 26 Aug)

A retail promotion that gives families preparing for a new school year the chance to avail themselves of unbeatable deals on a range of stationery and school-related merchandise.

9. Eid in Dubai – Eid Al Adha (1 – 3 Sep)

An event for the whole family in celebration of Eid Al Adha, featuring special retail activations combined with family-oriented events and activities.  

10. Fall/Winter Collection Launch (4 – 12 Sep)

This event will feature a coordinated launch of new collections from renowned brands to launch the fall and winter season ranges.

11. Diwali (13 – 19 Oct)

A retail event featuring sales at various outlets and targeting product categories appealing to the high volume of international visitors during this period.   

12. National Day Super Sale (1 – 3 Dec)

A three-day sale period allowing retailers to offer their best discounts of the year in celebration of National Day.


About Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism)

With the ultimate vision of positioning Dubai as the world’s leading tourism destination and commercial hub, Dubai Tourism’s mission is to increase the awareness of Dubai among global audiences and to attract tourists and inward investment into the emirate.

Dubai Tourism is the principal authority for the planning, supervision, development and marketing of Dubai’s tourism sector. It markets and promotes the Emirate’s commerce sector, and is responsible for the licensing and classification of all tourism services, including hotels, tour operators and travel agents. Brands and departments within the Dubai Tourism portfolio include Dubai Convention and Events Bureau, Dubai Calendar, and Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (formerly known as Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment). In addition to its headquarters in Dubai, Dubai Tourism operates 20 offices worldwide.

Dubai Tourism 
[+971] 600 55 5559
[+971] 4 201 7631

© Press Release 2016

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