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VIDEO: ‘Dubai’s retail market the best in the world’

Stefan Laban, Senior Vice President of Gap Inc. Strategic Alliances, speaks about the emirate’s booming shopping scene

Dubai’s retail market has made major headlines throughout the years.

Boasting the world’s largest mall (The Dubai Mall), the world’s largest shoe store (Level Shoe District), and even the Middle East’s largest shopping and entertainment festival (Dubai Shopping Festival), the cosmopolitan city offers shopping enthusiasts almost everything they can think of.

The emirate is among the top five target markets for new entrants, following Tokyo, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Taipei, in first, second, third and fourth places, respectively, reveals CBRE’s 2015 report, How Global is the Business of Retail, released earlier this year.

“Dubai’s retail sector has remained resilient over the past few years, with major retail centres recording occupancies of over 95 per cent and rising footfall figures,” the report reveals. “2014 saw 45 new brands enter the market. Dubai’s success has been driven in part by the overall quality of its developed infrastructure and a combination of factors ranging from the ease of travel, visa availability, air flight connections and hotel quality.”

Old Navy, new store

Kippreport spoke to Stefan Laban, Senior Vice President of Gap Inc. Strategic Alliances, about Dubai’s retail market, while he was in town for the opening of the Emirate’s first Old Navy store in Festival City.

“Dubai has been on the list for quite some time, so we kind of danced around Dubai a bit. We opened in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi, so Dubai is obviously one of the greatest places retail,” explains Laban.

Room for more

“If you really want to compete as a global brand, you have to be in Dubai,” Laban exclaims – and it looks like a lot of others think so too.

“Many new retailers are now coming to the Dubai for the first time,” said Fuad Mansoor Sharaf, senior director of property management at Majid Al Futtaim Properties, in an interview with Kippreport earlier this year at the Mall of the Emirates Evolution 2015 launch event.

Michael Cesarz, the chief executive officer of the shopping malls business unit of Majid Al Futtaim Properties (MAF), also told Kippreport earlier this year: “A diverse region such as Dubai needs a wide range of retail space. I think…there is some more growth to be seen over the next years and there is potential.”

Cesarz states that MAF aims to double its size in the next five years, considering the growth of retail interests in the region.

all the best

Laban feels that the city’s mall culture is world-class and form a main attraction for big brands hoping to enter the region.

“I run a global business unit for Gap, so I visit loads of malls around the world and I do think that the malls here are the best in the world, with quality, the skills people have and the visual merchandising,” he says. “Everybody tries to bring their best brand assortment and their best foot forward in Dubai.”

Explaining that consumers in this region are fashion-oriented, Laban says residents here know their brands because they travel a lot and can see what is available in other countries.

He adds: “I think Dubai Mall is probably the best mall in the world, so you cannot open something here that is mediocre or not perfect. Even Apple just opened in Mall of the Emirates, so I think there are more great concepts coming. Retail in Dubai has such a strong hold of the economy of everything. I think it will only become bigger and better.”

“We have a big plan for Dubai, but nothing concrete that we can announce just yet,” Laban concludes.

This article first appeared on AMEinfo’s sister publication kipperport