x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

40th anniversary gives a boost to spirits and profits

From special edition watches to sports utility vehicles, National Day is proving to be a big boost for local companies. Some have even tripled their revenue.

People are buying merchandise from flags and posters to more luxurious items such as limited edition vehicles to celebrate National Day. Philip Cheung / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi
People are buying merchandise from flags and posters to more luxurious items such as limited edition vehicles to celebrate National Day. Philip Cheung / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi

National Day is lifting the country's spirits to new highs, and it is also boosting business for some companies by as much as three fold from the same time a year ago.

Manufacturers are pitching a plethora of products pegged to the UAE's 40th anniversary, including limited edition watches as well as a sports utility vehicle.

Some report an increase in business from corporate clients and schools, which started buying up goods weeks earlier than last year.

Jasem Al Hosani, the owner of My Party, a decorations business based in Al Ain, sealed much bigger deals this year than last. Ten thousand of Mr Al Hosani's company's balloons were recently bought by Al Ain Mall, he says, with many of them released from a giant net in celebration of both National Day and the opening of the mall's new extension.

"Last year they ordered something simple," said Mr Al Hosani, who added company revenues were up three fold on last year.

Yet there is a "fine balance" between helping to promote the country's celebratory spirit and gaining from it too much.

"As a company, you don't want to be seen as exploiting that spirit," said Melodena Stephens Balakrishnan, an associate business professor at the University of Wollongong in Dubai.

Some businesses are rolling out special merchandise that costs the same, or similar, to their regular products.

The price of Toyota's limited-edition Land Cruiser, which features a National Day message on an illuminated number plate, plus special emblems with a falcon and UAE flag, is Dh277,000 (US$75,400).

The company said it did not raise the price compared with its current model, which ranges from Dh149,000 to Dh296,000 depending on specifications.

"We are not counting on this edition to boost our sales," said Andrew Squires, the national sales and distribution manager at Al-Futtaim Motors, which distributes Toyota in the UAE.

Saint Honoré made 40 luxury watches decorated with colours of the country's flag and a map of the Emirates engraved on the back of the case.

The timepiece costs Dh5,990, but since most models were pre-booked for purchase, there are only a few remaining in select Paris Gallery stores, said Olivier Birault, Saint Honoré's chief executive.

"It is not a question of money, as the watch is similar in price to the current model," he said.

Still, business owners are already thinking about the UAE's 41st anniversary.

Mr Al Hosani opened a new manufacturing business this year in Al Ain to produce items such as decorative ribbon and key chains.

While he said there was not enough time to create new products for this year's celebrations, he planned to have merchandise ready by June to celebrate next year's National Day.

"Next year we'll produce more products," he said, "and we'll be ready."

nparmar@thenational.ae