Dubai Gets "Fresh" With Christmas Trees

Published December 15th, 2011 - 11:15 GMT
Hundreds of fir trees are being shipped from Canada, much to the delight of Dubai's denizens.
Hundreds of fir trees are being shipped from Canada, much to the delight of Dubai's denizens.

Nordman fir trees from Canadian forests are in huge demand among Christmas tree shoppers this year.

Hundreds of these trees imported from a winter wonderland halfway across the world are on display on Hudaiba Road in Satwa, turning one stretch into a mini Christmas tree bazaar.

There has been a rising demand among expatriates, mostly Westerners, for fresh Christmas trees.

"We love them fresh because they make your living room smell wonderful," said Jacqueline, a British mum, who snapped up an eight-foot blue-green fir on Monday night for Dh600. "It's like having a natural freshener at home for up to two months," said her 12-year-old son Sam.

"I just water them once every three to four weeks."

Importers are not complaining.

"My shipment of 700 trees arrived in Jebel Ali from Quebec on December 8. We sell whatever we bring in," said Vicky V., owner of Fresh Flowers, for whom importing fir trees is an annual rite.

He shipped 400 pieces last year, and only 200 pieces the first time he ventured into the business eight years ago.

Sulaiman, an Indian trader in Satwa, said he sells an average of 15 deep green Noble fir trees daily. "This year, the quality of our trees is much better," said Sulaiman.

Online expat forums are abuzz with talk on where to pick the best festive tree.

A staff from Spinneys' Al Wasl branch said that since their shipment went on sale on November 23, more than 200 trees had been sold from their branch alone.

"These are the last few remaining trees from our stock," an Asian staff said on Monday night. "They are already booked, ready for pick up by buyers."

Reliving a tradition

Donald, a Canadian manager who bought an eight-foot fresh tree for Dh400 (a six-footer costs Dh350) at Spinneys, said: "It's great to re-live a family tradition right here in a desert country, with fresh trees from home."

Locally grown live pine trees in a pot are also available for Dh300 and up from nurseries in Al Aweer. Nursery staff there, however, are an unhappy lot. "Sales have been so slow this year. I just wanted to make a sale for the day," said Mohammad, an Urdu-speaking shopkeeper at one of the Al Aweer nurseries.

For those in no mood for fresh trees, artificial ones from China could do the trick for between Dh100 and Dh300 - which come aplenty at DragonMart. The most expensive festive tree — made of fireproof fabric, plastic and steel — comes decked with led lights and stands 2.4 metres tall. The price: Dh4,195 at THE One. The "tree" itself comes with a 10-year guarantee, and two years for the led lights.

But nothing beats the giant Christmas trees put up in malls and hotels as each of them try to upstage each other in height and novelty.

Last year, the Emirates Palace Hotel decked out a 43-foot-high Christmas tree with $11 million (Dh40 million) worth of semi-precious stones and gold, setting a world record.

By Jay B. Hilotin, XPRESS Chief Reporter

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