Travellers experiencing the exhilaration of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix also proved to be speedy shoppers, with duty-free sales up almost 50 per cent in the period when the Formula One race took place.
The Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) says revenue from duty-free sales increased by 44.5 per cent during a six-week promotional campaign held around the race last month, compared with the same period last year.
There was also a 16 per cent increase in passengers at Abu Dhabi International Airport during the F1 event last month, ADAC said.
A promotional duty-free campaign between October 20 and December 6 included prizes such as a Fiat 500, a 24-carat gold F1 model car, and a pair of Rolex watches. Along with the rise in passenger numbers, that promotion was said to be behind the higher spending at the airport's duty-free operation.
But since then, the recent snowstorms in Europe and subsequent flight cancellations have made a small dent in retail numbers.
"Abu Dhabi Duty Free has been slightly affected due to the flight cancellations at Abu Dhabi International Airport," said Huraiz al Mur bin Huraiz, the chief commercial officer at ADAC.
"However, it is expected that the sales revenue at the Duty Free will increase to 14 per cent by the end of December; [compared] to last year's percentage, that was 12.5 per cent," he said.
Retail experts said that promotions often produced spikes in consumer spending.
"Normally they do a lot of promotions inside the terminal, which creates a lot of excitement and puts people in a buying mood," said Trevor Lloyd-Jones, a contributing editor and Middle East expert at the information company Generation Research, which specialises in duty-free and travel retail.
But Mr Lloyd-Jones acknowledged that sales growth of 44.5 per cent was "a fantastic number".
He pointed to duty-free operations in Qatar, Dubai and Abu Dhabi as "hot spots" in the industry.
Abu Dhabi International Airport's Terminal 3, which opened early last year, has helped to "accelerate" retail sales, he said. "With the new terminal, this has put Abu Dhabi on a higher growth curve."
Mr Lloyd-Jones said growth in duty-free operations in the Middle East was currently "on a par with or only slightly behind the growth in the Asia-Pacific region this year".
Generation Research predicts the global travel retail industry will reach US$85 billion (Dh312.2bn) in 2020, up from $34.5bn last year. Travel retail in the Middle East is expected to grow by an average of 15.3 per cent annually during that period, the largest increase globally.
Dubai Duty Free is the single largest airport retail operation in the world, with sales last year of $1.14bn. A 14.5 per cent increase in spending in the first nine months of this year has put the retailer on track for a record $1.25bn in annual sales.