DUBAI // The demand for fake goods is not shrinking despite warnings over their safety and links to organised crime and terrorism.
Every year, authorities in the UAE hold campaigns highlighting the dangers of buying counterfeit luxury clothing and accessories, phones, cosmetics and vehicle parts, among other items.
In Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain last year, Dh31 million in fake car parts were confiscated.
In the same year, Dubai Customs seized Dh17m in fake electronics, watches, glasses, clothing, fabrics, cosmetics, medicines and medical equipment.
Ibrahim Behzad, the Department of Economic Development – Dubai’s director of intellectual property rights protection, said the emirate’s popularity as a shopping destination made it a magnet for counterfeiters.
“We make sure that nobody crosses lines when it comes to consumer rights and intellectual property rights,” he said, pointing out that most fakes were imported.
“We are giving those behind such practices a clear message and we do not stop by confiscating fake products or destroying them. We are working closely with brand owners to keep the local market free of such products and helping them to track down the source.”
Mr Behzad warned that fake electronics or cosmetics could pose a serious health risk because of the poor quality of materials used.
He urged people to only buy from authorised dealers. Fakes tended to be stored in suspicious locations and sellers did not issue proper invoices or provided receipts with incomplete details.
Despite the risk, people’s appetite for counterfeit goods showed no sign of diminishing.
“It’s just so much cheaper than paying for the real thing,” said one Indian woman, who did not wish to be identified.
“I know people say you get what you pay for but if you buy a fake designer handbag and it lasts you a year or more at a fraction of the cost of the real thing, then I think a lot of people would opt for it.”
Peer pressure to be seen with the latest products meant that counterfeit goods were a tempting option.
“When you see your friends with the latest gadget or clothes, you want to show people you have it as well,” said an Egyptian woman.
“But I also think that most of the genuine products are overpriced here. With the high cost of living, in general, I’m not surprised many people opt for counterfeit goods.
“If you get good ones, no one can tell the difference.”
Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer for electronics outlet Jacky’s, said there had been a change in the type of fake electrical goods people bought.
“The fake products are typically things like printer toners or cartridges and IT or smartphone accessories,” he said.
“Once, we would’ve seen fake televisions, small domestic appliances and mobile phones, especially in the pre-smartphone era, but this is largely non-existent any more.”
Many consumers may not know that they were buying fakes, particularly when it came to items such as ink and toner.
“This is an issue the industry is working on and the local authorities have been helping with raids,” said Mr Panjabi.
“There are cases, however, when many knowingly buy fakes or compatibles because they want to bring down their costs even if it means printers may be damaged or have lower print yields.”
He agreed that a desire among some to own items they aspire to was a factor.
“At other times, it could just be price, but the risks are that if it is an accessory, like an electrical charger, it could damage the smartphone.
“There was a case in China a few years ago when someone died because their [fake] iPhone caught fire.”
Source: uae news