We've done lots of talking lately about luxury brands in Russia and China but the Middle East is rapidly turning into one of the shopping capitals of the world and WWD has a comprehensive report on how the luxury market is changing in the Middle East. With oil up over $100 a barrel, money is pouring into these countries with large oil reserves. In the past, luxury retailers generally encountered Middle Eastern shoppers spending abroad in cities like Paris or London. Now, not only are the people in the Middle East more interested in spending more at home, the new cosmopolitan condo complexes and hotels are drawing tourists from around the world.
Dubai has already become one of the places that tourists flock to for the shopping. The past few years have brought incredible growth to the area with so much construction underway that it is currently as much a city of cranes as anything else. Recent data indicates that over half the tourists coming to Dubai are coming from Russia, leading Fendi to stock their store their with fur coats for Russian shoppers. Luxury retailers are finding that that they are needing to add multiple stores in places like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar to attract tourists who are drawn by new lavish hotels and need a place to stay.
For luxury retailers there are some unique challenges to having stores in the Middle East. Because many Arab women wear black abayas, jewelry, shoes and handbags are particularly important categories. Some designers also offer longer styles that are more body covering and done in lighter fabrics to be more comfortable in scorching desert heat. Jil Sander is working on a version of the abaya and Tom Ford is on the case to create local robe-like dishdasha outfits for men.
The picture above is of a Dubai mall during the Christmas season. It looks like even though Christmas is not an official holiday in the region, retailers still want to encourage holiday shopping. As stores learn to adapt to the specific needs of the Middle East, retailers also seem to be importing a few Western traditions.