At the Dubai Shopping Festival this year, we pretend that all that mall-hopping is just for fun and fitness
I wouldn’t exactly call myself a shopaholic but I do love this activity — for all the good it does to the economy and, of course, to my wardrobe and spirits. Especially when I see the magic word Sale! So being invited to Dubai, the mother of all shopping destinations, during its Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), was like being taken to retail heaven. And what better way to travel to heaven than business class and where else to stay but the posh Madinat Jumeirah, where you travel to and from your room either by buggy or boat.
Once there, I was told that the DSF this year had 70 malls and 6,000 retailers. All over the city there were signs announcing the festival, and a whole lot of brands such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Harvey Nichols, Lacoste, Kenneth Cole, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada were offering sales of up to 75 per cent. What makes the DSF a super hit is the fact that it’s not just about shopping. It’s also about being entertained, having a good time, and of course winning loads of prizes, including an Aston Martin.
During my two-day stay, I visited the famous Dubai Festival City Mall, which attracts a lot of visitors with its extravagant light and water show. There were performances at the mall’s atrium, besides other activities held during DSF week. “The challenge is to convert these footfalls into actual retail sales,” said a representative of the management. I realised how exactly that works. Lured into the mall by the show, I would walk around waiting for it to start and then spot a pair of attractive shoes on sale. Also tempting me was the fact that every time I made a purchase, I became eligible for a raffle draw. And, after being enthralled by the show, if I was not in the mood for shopping, I dined at Jamie Oliver’s Italian, the Hard Rock Café or Chilli’s, from fine dining to fast food, all in one place.
Dubai is not just about high-street fashion. I must confess that I was surprised when my friend in Dubai told me that I could find a whole street of rip-offs and that in three types — the ‘can make out it’s fake’ ones, the ‘exactly like the branded’ ones, and the ‘even my brand expert friend won’t make it out’ versions!
Only at Dubai did I realise that shopping works very well for my fitness. First, the sheer size of the malls; some like The Dubai Mall are so huge they have buggy-like taxis to take you from one corner to another for a fee. In fact, you have the Dubai Mall Walk Program, where every Sunday morning till March 31, you can take a walk with a fitness team, and follow it up with breakfast. Wouldn’t it be fun to gaze at Ferrari, Chanel and Bloomingdale’s store windows instead of park benches, pedestrians and other joggers for a change?
Additions to the DSF this year are the Tea Oasis, the Bedouin Lifestyle Camp, and the World of Souvenirs. The combined worth of raffles and prizes including luxury cars, gold and cash this year is AED100 million. The total spending at the last DSF was AED14.7 billion, of which AED8.9 billion was on shopping alone!
With clothes, fashion accessories, cosmetics and skincare products being the festival’s top purchases, DSF is proof that woman and money make for a powerful, successful combination — for the festival, of course! The DSF is on till February 3, 2013.
(The writer was in Dubai at the invitation of Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment.)