A haven for shoppers, DSF has become synonymous with its theme ‘Shop at your best’.
Eighteen golden years have passed since the inception of the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), the magic key that has opened the doors of Dubai to millions of tourists from across the globe. Dubai is now among the world’s best tourist and shopping destinations. And, as DSF echoes its theme, “Shop at your best”, tourists are truly shopping at their best and returning to their homeland with myriads of shopping experiences.
A Swiss couple, Achill and Angela Bandi, find Dubai an excellent place to holiday and to shop. “In Zurich, it is too expensive to get winter apparel, even booths, but we find the best there is here at DSF. We never expected this. We came for a short holiday. Now, we are going home with something we can never forget. See, what we found! Not just the best holiday ever, but also branded personal items at giveaway prices, not to mention the chance to win and to feel great if luck turns on our side!,” Achill says.
“France is synonymous with fashion, yet here in Dubai at this time, we never dreamt of finding such fantastic and la mode wears that you cannot resist,” says Anais Bellard from Paris.
DSF has simply turned Dubai into a haven for domestic and international shopping. Statistics released by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), speaks volumes of DSF’s impact on Dubai’s tourism industry. Since it was launched in 1996, DSF has attracted approximately 51 million participants — residents and visitors — who have spent just under Dh130 billion for shopping, hospitality or on entertainment.
As the 19th edition is drawing to a close, the DSF’s new initiative, ‘Shop and Win” has already reached sales of Dh400 million. This offers one lucky shopper the chance to win a cash prize of Dh500,000 in participating community centres. The Gold Raffle has generated for Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group outlets a marked average growth of 35 to 40 per cent as compared to their corresponding days of sales in the 18th edition. More so, all the 70 malls and 6,000 retail outlets have registered increases in footfall and sales. Indeed, DSF has lived up to its festive theme, “Shop at your Best”.
How the DSF translates the upsurge of tourists into a bullish economic activity is first seen in the unbeatable bargains, including discounts of up to 75 per cent on all world-class brands across all malls. Dubai has the largest collection of top regional and international brands, which is by itself a major come-on among incoming tourists. “On top of it all, DSF enriches the shopping experience with city-wide music, culture and sports events, something that is unparalleled in the region,” says Laila Mohammed Suhail, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), DSF organiser. “For this year’s DSF, we have put together a fantastic line-up of over 150 events and activities that go hand in hand with the daily shopping done by visitors from around the world.”
From the retail sector and travel to aviation and hotel industries, DSF is also causing an upswing in ancillary and support services such as the food and beverage sector (restaurants), financial services (money exchange houses), transportation sector (rent-a-car companies) and other sectors that benefit from the increased number of visitors during DSF.
With international tourists bringing in foreign currency into the UAE, the economy gets an unprecedented boost. Ossama Al Rahma, General Manager, Al Fardan Exchange, says that during the first two weeks of the DSF, the number of operations in terms of money transactions, has gone up by 10 to 15 per cent over that of last year’s. “Additionally, the extended shopping hours at the mall also leads to an increase in footfall at the exchange centres located at the shopping malls, leading to an overall positive impact on the currency exchange industry.”
As tourists arrive at Dubai’s aiports, the plus factors of DSF begin to work. Salah Tahlak, Senior Vice-President of Corporate Communications, Dubai Duty Free, says as many visitors travel through the Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International during DSF, they shop first at Dubai Duty Free before heading into the city. “Dubai Duty Free operates in a competitive retail environment, offering the best products at the best prices and, in addition, provides an excellent level of customer service. The retail sector’s great deals during DSF have definitely generated a positive response from tourists all over.”
With DSF still holding the key to open more doors for tourists, Dubai is definitely on its way to reach its goal of 20 million visitors by the year 2020 as outlined in the Vision for Tourism 2020 strategy. Proof of this is the average four million tourists coming every DSF to Dubai. The figures are expected to rise by five to ten per cent during this edition, says Suhail.
New DSF markets
As part of efforts to increase the number of tourists to Dubai during DSF 2014, DFRE has reached out to a wider audience and new markets across the world including Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, China, Hong Kong and South Africa through the overseas offices of DTCM. “DFRE has also launched a global marketing campaign with the extensive use of geo-marketing technology and social media to get more visitors to Dubai during the current edition of DSF,” said Suhail.
To ensure a continuous influx of tourists, Suhail says each DSF edition is meticulously organised to support the growth of the tourism and retail sectors, key pillars of Dubai’s economy. Signature events have now become synonymous with the DSF such as the daily fireworks, carnivals and the line-up of shopping attractions that include the wide variety of discounts, promotions as well as the DSF Mega Raffles. “For the 19th edition of DSF, we have developed different themes to add value to the overall shopping experience. Whether tourists come to Dubai for shopping or for enjoying their vacation in general, these themes ensure that Dubai becomes their most memorable holiday destination in the world. From luxury shopping, art and culture, urban discovery, adventure and thrill and lifestyle to relaxation and rejuvenation, dining, technology and electronics, to family entertainment and events – these themes form the basis of DSF’s tagline ‘Shop At Your Best’, strongly held by its five pillars – At Your Most Welcomed, At Your Most Glamorous, At Your Most Immersed, At Your Most Delectable and At Your Most Joyful,” Suhail explains.
At the heart of the spectacular success of DSF is the excellent collaboration between the government and private sectors. Among these countless collaborations is the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group, which has given away over 734kg of gold since the launch of DSF in 1996. But, this 19th edition, the group has put up a gold reward for shoppers of the Expo 2020 gold coins or gold jewellery worth Dh500 with prizes worth Dh6 million. It has given shoppers — residents and tourists alike — a chance to win a kilo of gold and a diamond solitaire ring every day for 32 days of DSF.
Sunny Chittilappilly, chairman of the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group, puts the DSF partnership this way: “The mega jewellery promotion campaign will strengthen our 19-year-old partnership with Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment. Since the launch of both Dubai Shopping Festival and Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group in 1996, both have been complimenting the growth of each other while offering the best value to shoppers during the DSF.”