DUBAI // If you’re going to write a cheque for a US$10 million gold yacht, you wouldn’t want to do it with a ballpoint.
Fortunately, a pen valued at more than Dh3m is available at the same place as the yacht – the first World Luxury Expo, being held at the ultimate in top-end venues, the Burj Al Arab.
Private-jet gift vouchers costing $175,000 each and a 160-year-old Fabergé egg are also among the world’s most exclusive luxury goods being displayed at the expo.
Despite being an invitation-only affair organised by World Luxury Group, it has been granted full Dubai Shopping Festival event status. “Dubai is one of the hubs of the luxury market in the Middle East and we wanted to start off at the world’s most luxurious hotel,” said the company’s executive director, James Blewman.
Each company displaying goods has asked along its very best customers.
“We are expecting 1,100 visitors on each of the three days, so it’s not huge volumes but it’s quality,” Mr Blewman said.
“On top of that, the 400 guests in the hotel have all had private invitations sent to their rooms.”
The total value of the goods on show is estimated at more than $50m (Dh183.6m).
The expo will travel around the Arabian Gulf, appearing at the Emirates Palace in the capital in September, the Saudi capital Riyadh, Doha in Qatar and, next year, Kuwait City.
Mercedes, Bentley, McLaren and Aston Martin cars greet guests as they make their way to a two-storey marquee at the side of the hotel, and visitors can buy the boats, planes and vehicles on show.
Just inside the door a Steinway player-piano performs a tune with no human intervention, while staff in ornate, mauve uniforms approach with trays of canapes.
A company called Luxury Sea Boats is promoting a $10m, 22-metre vessel that has been painted gold especially for the GCC market.
Staff had planned to moor the Sessa C68 next to the Burj but were nervously eyeing the large waves through the windows of the marquee.
NasJet, the Middle East’s largest private jet company, is offering the ultimate wedding present – its new $175,000 “honeymoon jetcard” that gives the happy couple 25 hours of flight time in an aircraft, complete with crew, that will take them anywhere in the world.
“This is targeted towards high-net-worth individuals, somebody who wants to give it to his son and daughter-in-law or a friend’s son or daughter who is getting married,” said Muhammad Murad, director of regional sales at NasJet.
The pricey pen is the diamond-festooned, 18-carat gold Montegrappa Ultimate Centennial Dragon, and the exact price tag is Dh3,128,000.
The Fabergé egg, with a unique horse and jockey design, is available from the Agha jewellery stand for $1m.
Art is also on show. Swiss Art Gate UAE is showing seven works by the German artist George Classen, together worth Dh1m.
“I think these fit quite well in this exhibition, in a luxury environment,” said Kurt Blum, general manager of Swiss Art Gate.
Signs reading “Switzerland” on one stand make it seem the entire country is for sale, but closer inspection reveals it is holidays that are being promoted.
Most of those invited to the expo, which ends on Thursday, are from the UAE, although some are from elsewhere in the Arabian Gulf and a few are from even further away.
“I think the expo is a good idea because if you can get the right group of people to come then you can have a lot of high-end brands in a special environment,” said Henrik Riis, who runs a gallery in London that sells works by artists such as Damien Hirst.
But amid all the celebration of lavish consumption is an oasis of altruism.
A Dubai-based jewellery designer called Cantonnet is displaying earrings she created to raise funds for children affected by the conflict in Syria. Half of the profit from each pair sold goes to a charity that helps the youngsters.