Back in the yonder years, one would ask about Dubai and get a dumbfounded look, maybe a little scratching in the head and a very unsure reply, “You mean Hawai’i?”
Today however, the place has transformed into an international luxury retail destination, thanks to a strong leadership, sound infrastructure and 24/7 security.
Among highlights of the emirate is the month-long Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), which started in 1996 and is now running on its 22nd edition.
For Filipinos living in Dubai and its neighboring emirates, DFS is another much-awaited event, alongside Gitex Shopper and Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS), during which they can buy, on tempting deals, branded wardrobes, leather goods, perfumes and gadgets for themselves and their relatives as well as gold jewelries that they can later on sell when the price goes up.
DSF doesn’t come dull. Fireworks lit up the sky. Fashion shows highlight the malls. Musicians, jugglers and street performers liven up the city for that really festive ambiance.
Making it more interesting are the “life-changing prizes,” encapsulated in the “DSF Mega Raffles,” which include a daily raffle for one Infiniti QX70 with Dh150,000 cash and Nissan Grand Raffle where customers get a chance to drive home one of eight top Nissan models, among them, X-Trail, Pathfinder and Patrol.
To join the Infiniti Mega Raffle, shoppers need only to buy a Dh200 raffle ticket at selected ENOC and EPPCO petrol stations, Zoom stores, metro stations and selected shopping malls. To participate in the Nissan Grand Raffle on the other hand, shoppers need to spend a minimum of Dh20 on non-fuel items also at ENOC and EPPCO petrol stations
Also, 34 kilos of gold will be given away by the Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group (DGJG), a DSF sponsor, to 100 winners throughout the event; three winners will be announced daily where the first prize is half a kilo while the second and third prizes are a fourth of a kilo.
Five DSF shoppers, moreover have the chance to win weekly cash prizes of Dh50,000 each.
At Dubai Festival City, shoppers who spend Dh250 can enter a draw to win mall vouchers worth Dh500 each week, while electronics retailer, Jumbo is giving away half a kilo of gold every week, three solid gold limited edition PlayStation 4s and 10gram gold coins every day with all the shoppers need to do is spend Dh500 in the store.
As of writing, two Filipinos have won big prizes. Joel Gutierrez, a 43-year-old sales man at a clothing shop who was informed that he will be terminated from work next month, won a luxury Infiniti car and Dh150,000 in cash while 24-year-old Gemma Carlos, a telecom engineer, got for herself a one-fourth kilo of gold worth Dh32,000 or Ph433,600.
Gutierrez, who has been working in the UAE for the past 16 years, chose to get the cash equivalent of the Infiniti, which put the total cash prize at approximately Ph4 million that he said he’ll use to invest in a grocery store back home in the Philippines.
“DSF is definitely one of the international events that people from all over the world look forward to; and it definitely adds substantial value to all segments including retail, hospitality and aviation sectors,” said Tawhid Abdullah, DGJG chairman.
He added, “Statistics prove this fact. The non-oil economy of Dubai owes a great deal to in-bound tourists during the festive seasons. DSF has played an important role in establishing Dubai’s position as a shopping destination.”
The group has over 300 jewellery outlets participating in DSF 2016-17.
Officials said DSF has attracted 56 million visitors to Dubai in the last two decades, resulting in total spend of over Dh145 billion, including hotel stay. During its inaugural run in 1996, it brought in 1.6 million visitors who spent a total of Dh2.15 billion, according to government statistics.
CB Richard Ellis, a global real estate investment manager, has said DSF “is now a brand in itself, recognised by people from across the Middle East region and international visitors beyond.”
Matthew Green, CBRE-UAE head of research and consultancy noted in previous interviews that Dubai “has become synonymous with luxury retail, attracting a host of new and exciting retail brands in recent years.
“It is now second only to London in terms of international brand exposure and that makes it a hugely attractive destination for consumers.”
Also notably a result of DSF is the increase in the number of hotels which grew 150 percent in 2015 since 1997, recent reports quoted Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Fahim, Chief Executive Officer, Paris Gallery Group of Companies, as saying.