Retail demand, driven by tourists , will lead to more malls being built in the country, according to experts at a Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry event, called Dubai: World leader in Retail.
“The increasing number of tourists to Dubai will definitely create the need to have more shopping malls across the emirates,” said Mohi Al Din Bin Hendi, Chairman of BinHendi Enterprises,
“To meet the emirate’s goal of attracting 20 million tourists by 2020 , there should be great opportunity for retailer to grow and expand with the number of the malls in the emirate,” he said.
Bin Hendi said growth in the retail sector will serve as a magnet to pull in top global retailers, especially those in the fashion business.
“Most of the global brands are present in Dubai; still there is scope for more as this will directly support the increasing flow of tourists to the emirate,” he said.
Highlighting the significance of this business segment as the main driver to the Dubai economy, Hamad Bu Amim, Director General of Dubai Chamber, said that while the trade contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated at one third, retail sector contributes more than 10 per cent to the total GDP of Dubai.
He said that Dubai could position itself as favourite shopping destination for high spending tourists from all over the world.
According to the Business Monitor International (BMI) study, the per capita retail sales in the UAE is forecasted to grow at 33 per cent during the period 2012-2016, Bu Amim added.
Giving an example of the on going growth in the retail sector, he said: “The restaurants and coffee shops recorded strong growth at 22.84 per cent between 2009 to 2012 from 648 to 796.
Majid Al Futtaim Properties, a leading group in the retail industry, unveiled further investments in this sectors to meet the current and future demand.
“Dubai has a strong future as a leading international retail centre, that is why we have recently announced our plans to invest Dh3 billion to revamp our developments in Dubai, to meet the future demand of our customers,” said George Kostas, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Properties.
Dubai continues to reinforce its leadership as a retail tourism destination,  mainly due to the constantly evolving retail formats and innovative shopping concepts, he said.
While there are clear indication for potential, Kostas said: “We see strong demand across all retail segments notably in fashion, electronics and furniture.”
Christophe Nicaise, CEO, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, said that the need is to get a wider berth for Dubai on the world shopping map.
“We should have more cultural and sports events to attract visitors, he said.
While he recommended that Dubai has to look at the concept of street-side shopping especially in the luxury shopping sector as Chinese visitors  are leading in the purchase of luxury goods in Dubai.
Dubai ranked second globally  for retail representation, just behind the British capital London, according to the annual CBRE survey for the year 2012.
By Zaher Bitar, Senior Reporter at Gulf News