x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Glamour of Dubai adds fizz to new cola drink

Dubai shows it fizz inspiring a new cola drink.

Sophia Giewe during the launch of Dubai Cola at the Gulfood exhibition.
Sophia Giewe during the launch of Dubai Cola at the Gulfood exhibition.

The latest soft drink to hit the shelves worldwide could be one bearing the name Dubai - and with a date and honey twist.

But Dubai Cola will not be made in the UAE.

It is being produced by a German company that hopes to cash in on the luxurious image the emirate has abroad, said Sophia Grewe, the sales and marketing manager for the Dubai Cola Company.

"We could have called it something else, like Date Cola," Ms Grewe said at the Gulfood exhibition in Dubai, where the drink was launched yesterday.

"But Dubai is really a name all around the world that is connected with luxury."

The idea came about two years ago, but Dubai Cola - owned by a group of German shareholders - went into production about six months ago in Austria, Ms Grewe said.

The beverage does not have a distributor yet but the company hopes its products will grace the shelves within three or four months, she added.

The beverage draws on the flavours associated with Dubai - dates and honey - and comes in a white can with a gold lid and tab, and gold Arabic calligraphy.

So far, Dubai Cola has had inquiries from countries including England, Switzerland, Germany, Pakistan, Malaysia and, of course, the UAE, Ms Grewe said.

"The reactions are very positive," she said.

The company said it was also looking for a "filler" in Dubai. Dubai Cola would ship its syrup to the emirate to be carbonated and canned by a partner for distribution to the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Dubai Cola is not the first carbonated beverage to associate itself with the Arab world. In 2002, Mecca Cola was launched in France by the businessman Tawfik Mathlouthi.

It was promoted as an alternative for Muslims who did not want to consume a US-owned product. The drink was sold across the Middle East but does not seem to be available in the UAE.

Thorsten Hartmann, the director of the research consultancy IMES, said Dubai Cola's success would depend on the price. The cost of Pepsi and Coke in the UAE has risen by 50 per cent, from Dh1 to Dh1.50, this year and domestic consumers are cost sensitive, Mr Hartmann said.

Choosing the right channel to sell it will also be important, he added.

"If they target the hotel market, the tourist market and those hotels catering to other Gulf Arab customers, since it has a date and honey base … it will probably remain a niche [product]," he said. "But it might be a nice niche."