More than 5,500 retail professionals are expected to participate at Retail City 2008, the three-day industry showcase for investment and development of retail real estate, which starts today (Sunday 1stJune) at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre.
Throughout the Middle East the retail sector is currently valued at US$ 100 billion and ranks second only to residential property in the non-oil economy. Visitors to the show will no doubt be eager to view the latest offerings from not only Dubai, the regional retail hub, but also the other key drivers of retail space, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Jeddah.
The most popular targets for both retail and real estate investment are countries in the new economic region stretching from China across India and the Middle East to Africa, according to industry experts. It is clear why emerging markets are attracting so much attention. They make up more than half of the world’s population, barriers to foreign ownership are dissolving and the top 50 spent a combined total of US$1.7 trillion on construction last year.
"The subprime issue has spread from the US to the real estate markets in the UK and Spain, which are now almost in freefall. This has had an adverse effect on their economies with retail spending in sharp decline. Therefore property investors and retailers are actively looking for partners and business opportunities that will provide a return in the short to medium term and balance their portfolios in the longer term," said Retail City Project Manager, Naomi Koningen.
Retail City brings together global retailers, investors, shopping centre developers, franchise networks, shopping centre management, architects and regional authorities to focus on all aspects of the retail development cycle.
Retail City 2008 comprises an exhibition with a parallel three-day networking conference. The exhibition aims to bring together international retail property professionals to develop new joint ventures, exchange views, identify new investment opportunities and encourage retailers and franchises to set up shop in the Middle East.
A unique feature of Retail City 2008 will be the new Speed Networking Sessions which guarantee a more direct and effective means of networking for all pre-registered retail participants to create new business opportunities. The sessions take place during the conference coffee breaks in the Retail City VIP Lounge.
Another notable feature this year will be Don Soderquist, Former Senior Vice-Chairman of Wal-Mart who will be delivering the keynote at the Retail City Conference which runs in parallel with the exhibition. Soderquist will share the key principles behind Wal-Mart’s amazing growth, which have an emphasis on leadership development and applying business ethics.
Now in their third year, The Retail City Awards will once again reward excellence in the retail industry. This year’s awards acknowledge outstanding performance in seven key areas of the retail industry and are judged by a high profile panel of retail industry experts. Winners will be honoured during a Gala dinner being held at the glamorous Raffles Hotel Dubai on Monday 2 June. Top industry professionals, personalities and high profile guests will also be present.
Retail City 2008 has received solid backing from key industry players such as Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Al Habib Real Estate Co. and Kinan International Real Estate Development Co. who have both taken Platinum sponsorship and AMS and Latin Organics who have taken Gold sponsorship. Silver sponsors include Beyoot Real Estate & Marketing, Duncan Private Wealth Management, LLC and Grand Optics