Up to 75,000 bargain hunters are set to descend on the capital this week as the first Abu Dhabi Electronics Shopper show gets under way.
Some 35 retailers and vendors will be taking part in the event that runs between Thursday and Monday at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
The organiser Dome Exhibitions expects total spending of up to Dh80 million (US$21.7m) at the event, which offers an alternative to the biannual Gitex Shopper.
"Abu Dhabi has the highest GDP per capita in the world. It is a very important market for electronics retailers," Antoine Georges, the managing director of Dome Exhibitions said yesterday. "When you look around here everyone has the latest technology, it is very important to consumers and they have the financial clout to buy the latest and the best."
Abu Dhabi represents close to 30 per cent of the UAE retail market, which has been growing at an aggregate rate of 10 per cent per year for the past four years.
The 35 exhibitors are paying $300 per square metre to participate. Retailers including Sharaf DG, Emax Electronics, Plug-Ins, CompuMe, Costless Electronics, Grand Stores, VV & Sons and Hi Fi City will be taking part in the exhibition.
The total is less than the 40 to 50 retailers the organisers had targeted earlier in the year. Some, like Jacky's Electronics, declined to take part because of the close proximity in timing to the second Gitex Shopper taking place next month.
"The biggest pressure is on the supply chain with the events being so close together," said Nilesh Khalkho, the chief executive of Sharaf DG. "Last year we had one event, this year it is three. Marketing spends have had to increase to support the offers. It is an opportunity to see how the market behaves."
Although tickets to the event cost Dh10, conference organisers said they had distributed 500,000 free tickets around the capital, meaning that most visitors would not have to pay.
However, the event still has a long way to go to compete with Dubai's Gitex show, which has been running for more than 20 years and last year attracted more than 200,000 visitors, generating a total of Dh237m in sales.
"This event is long overdue," said Neelesh Bhatnagar, the chief executive of Emax, who was personally hoping to make Dh2m of sales during the show.
"As retailers it is our responsibility to retain the Abu Dhabi customer right here and bring the capital into the limelight of electronic retail.
"The event will compete with Gitex because a lot of customers will commute to Dubai for Gitex, but events like this will prevent that from happening."