One million international tourists, the majority from the Arabian Gulf, are expected to visit Dubai during Ramadan, with retailers forecasting sales to pick up in the run-up to Eid Al Fitr.
During the first four months of this year, around 1.3 million tourists visited Dubai, with 587,000 people coming from Saudi Arabia, up by 13 per cent, and 428,000 visitors from Oman, up by 30 per cent, according to Dubai Tourism.
“We have seen positive forward bookings,” said Issam Kazim, the chief executive of Dubai Corporation of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.
Retailers are also expecting a growth in sales before Eid, despite concerns of Brexit hitting the retail spending of UK tourists. The UK was Dubai’s third-largest source market after India and Saudi Arabia last year. Nearly 1.2 million visitors from the UK came to Dubai, up by 11 per cent over 2014.
“If the pound continues to fall, which is not guaranteed, it could dampen British tourism to overseas destinations including to the UAE,” said Tim Fox, the chief economist and head of research at Emirates NBD.
“But even though the pound is likely to be weaker, it may not be by as much as many think.”
Shopping promotions from the Dubai Shopping Malls Group and deals from retailers are expected to help keep the shops busy.
Sales of gold jewellery, prices of which went up after the Brexit referendum vote, are also expected to pick up.
“The market experiences positive sales, especially during the last 10 days of Ramadan in the run-up to Eid Al Fitr, the time when people buy gifts,” said Tawhid Abdullah, the chairman of Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group.
Gold and jewellery sales are expected to increase by 5 per cent this Ramadan compared with the same period last year, according to him.
Spot prices of gold touched US$1,315.75 per ounce, up 4.6 per cent, on Friday as investors sought the traditional haven commodity.
The Arabian Automobiles Company, a division of AW Rostamani Group and the dealer for brands such as Nissan, Infiniti and Renault in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, recorded an increase of 50 per cent in sales enquiries during the first two weeks of Ramadan compared to the previous month.
“I believe this year’s festive promotions in the UAE will be attractive to customers from Gulf countries and the Middle East, whose influx we believe will be more than last year,” said Mohammed Al Fahim, the chief executive of the Paris Gallery Group of Companies.
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