Dubai ChamberThe Message Is Clear—Dubai Is Back
The message from the Dubai Chamber couldn’t be clearer: Dubai is back—back to double-digit growth in key sectors of economic activity, and back to a focus on its numerous advantages in infrastructure and business. “The economy is growing and the city prospering,” says Hamad Buamim, the organization’s Director General.
In 2010, both trade and tourism were up by double digits, and in 2011 those trends are continuing. In addition, Dubai continues to be “a safe, stable base in the Middle East, offering easy access to international markets,” Buamim says, with Dubai’s infrastructure, banking and financial services, and logistics facilities “unrivaled in the Middle East and beyond.”
While the global financial crisis caused a brief pause in Dubai’s growth, it spurred efforts by Dubai locally and the UAE on a federal level to improve the business environment.
Over the past year, Dubai has made it easier to start a business, both by simplifying the documents needed for company registration and by abolishing The Message Is Clear—Dubai Is Back H.E. Hamad Buamim, Director General of Dubai Chamber minimum capital requirement. Additionally, construction permits can now be processed online, helping to reduce delivery times.
On the federal level, laws covering consumer protection, the incorporation of companies, auditing and certificates of origin have been updated, while other federal laws on competition, foreign investment and arbitration are being revised. Furthermore, the UAE has adopted the international customs document ATA Carnet that will help bring more trade shows and exhibitions to the country by permitting the temporary, duty-free and tax-free import of goods.
Dubai Duty Free
Service and Value to Customers, Strategic Benefits to Dubai
When speaking with Colm McLoughlin, Managing Director of Dubai Duty Free (DDF), you’re as likely to talk about horse racing, tennis or cinema as you are about perfume, electronics or liquor sales. That’s in part because one of DDF’s most important roles is to help promote Dubai globally. Of course, it also is good at retail, achieving sales of US$1.27 billion in 2010, up 14% over 2009, as it generates sales from around 50% of the 50 million passengers passing through Dubai International Airport annually.
Promotion is so important to DDF that it commits 3% of annual sales to its marketing and promotions budget— about US$38 million in 2010. “We have a job and a duty to raise the profile of Dubai,” says McLoughlin, who came to Dubai from Shannon, Ireland, in 1983 to launch Dubai Duty Free.
Sponsoring Top International Horse Races
Among DDF’s top promotional activities is its sponsorship of some of the world’s biggest races, including the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Festival, the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup at Ascot and the Colm McLoughlin, Managing Director of Dubai Duty Free Perfume and Cosmetics Shop at Terminal 3 Dubai Duty Free International Raceday at Newbury.
DDF also owns and organizes a major tournament on the ATP and WTA circuit, the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which attracts A-list tennis stars and offers US$4 million in prize money. The retailer also sponsors more than two dozen sporting, cultural and conference events in Dubai, including the Dubai World Cup, Dubai International Film Festival, the Emirates International Festival of Literature, The Dubai Rugby 7s and the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup.
DDF is owned by the Investment Corporation of Dubai, the Dubai Government’s investment arm and the holder of some other valuable brands, including Emirates Airlines, Dubai Aluminium (DUBAL) and Emirates NBD bank. According to McLoughlin, DDF’s profits go to further develop DDF and its retail outlets, and to help fund airport infrastructure projects in the emirate. One such project is Concourse 3 at Dubai International Airport, which is set to open next year to serve Emirates Airlines’ fleet of Airbus A380s.
Next Up: Continued Growth and New Projects
Over its 28-year history, DDF has doubled sales revenues six times, and it is expected to do so again by 2015. Having already achieved its rank as the single largest airport retailer in the world, what’s next for DDF? “We will try our best to retain that position,” says McLoughlin. “We have a good profile in the duty free industry in terms of quality and value.”
In addition, DDF is preparing for the opening of its first hotel, the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, in late 2011. The five-star property will be managed by Dubai-based Jumeirah Group, and will be located on the grounds of the DDFowned Aviation Club, site of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
DDF also is continuing to develop its infrastructure in line with its growth, which is forecasted to reach US$3 billion in sales by 2020. “We send 400 pallets— that’s 60 or 70 trucks—every day to the airport. We couldn’t do that without automated stock handling. Right now about 70% of stock movement is automated; in two years, we hope to reach 90% automation,” McLoughlin says.
One of the most interesting things about McLoughlin is how easily he transitions between the big picture and the most granular details of the business. Though perhaps one shouldn’t expect anything less: While DDF plays a big part in the international promotion of Dubai, really, it can do so only because it puts so much care into each of the 60,000 sales it makes every day and into how it manages the 71 million pieces of merchandise it sells annually.
Forbes Custom is a custom publishing site that features
special advertising sections from Forbes magazine
as well as industry articles and videos from our partners.
The editors at Forbes were not involved in the creation of this content.
Site Developed by SmartMark Communications, LLC
© Forbes Magazine, All Rights Reserved