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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

iPhone 8 and gaming devices star at Dubai's Gitex Shopper 2017

Apple's iPhone 8 is the big draw but the online gaming market enjoying a boom in sales at the Dubai retail event 

Some shoppers at Gitex in Dubai are spending up to Dh50,000 on the latest super-fast laptops to play games on. Reem Mohammed / The National
Some shoppers at Gitex in Dubai are spending up to Dh50,000 on the latest super-fast laptops to play games on. Reem Mohammed / The National

The latest iPhone 8 may be the early star of the show at Gitex Shopper 2017 but the arms race of online gaming is proving fertile ground for tech giants hoping to convince shoppers to part with their hard-earned cash.

More new gaming devices are coming onto the market than ever before, big-name retailers have said, with some shoppers spending up to Dh50,000 on the latest super-fast laptops to play games such as Call of Duty, FIFA 18 or Destiny 2.

Virtual reality headsets, wearable fitness trackers and ultra-high definition televisions costing up to Dh16,000 were all on show at the eight-day Dubai World Trade Centre event, which started on Saturday.

Mohammed Khan, 31, is an IT category manager at Jumbo Electronics, and was attending his 12th Gitex event, his sixth working with Jumbo.

“The new iPhone 8s are the hot-selling cake right now; they are in demand and we don’t have enough to sell to customers,” he said.

“They want to pay for the quality products and they are not concerned about the price.

“People are not looking for the basic products, they want the high-end technology and to upgrade to the latest models.

“They are happy to spend the money and splash out on these luxury items.”

According to Euromonitor International’s Industry Forecast Model (IFM), consumer experts have said the sale of appliances and electronics could suffer from the 5 per cent Value Added Tax that comes into force in the UAE from January 1, 2018.

Retailers said that although there was no sign of a spending slow-down, there were fewer deals available.

“Consumers know VAT will have an impact on the product pricing but we know the pricing will be more aggressive from the vendors,” said Mr Khan.

“The extra 5 per cent or so in VAT will likely reduce the deals that can be made, so discounts will be maximum of 10 per cent, rather than 15 per cent if there was no VAT to add.”

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Online gaming is driving the biggest change at Gitex Shopper 2017. Like most big-name retailers, Jumbo has a specialist stand with the latest super-fast gaming laptops and PCs on sale.

The focus among gamers is now on graphics and a rugged machine that can perform.

“These laptops are very different to what we usually use for work and in the home,” said Shareena at E-Max’s stand.

“You need performance, and it needs to stay cool if it is being used for 8 hours at a time.

“All of the big laptop and PC brands have their own gaming division now. It used to be just Dell, now every PC manufacturer has its own focus on gaming.

“They are almost twice the price, and start from $1,000 (Dh5,000) up to $10,000 (Dh50,000) – for an Area 51 device made by Alienware.”

There are slimmer gaming machines now too, as manufacturers look for more portability but even these machines cost about Dh10,000.

“People are happy to pay these prices. It is the biggest change in the electronics market,” said Asif, who was selling laptops and PCs for Sharaf DG.

“The regular consoles like PS4 and Xbox are trying to keep up, and also offer ultra HD quality gaming now.

“Smart watches are getting more popular, too. People want to take care of their health, they are becoming more aware now and like the idea of this kind of wearable technology.

“More technology is coming online all the time. We expect the next trend to be virtual reality, augmented reality and linking this with our wearable devices.”

The top five gadgets in demand at Gitex, according to Jumbo Electronics:

1 Apple iPhone 8

2 Asus Republic of Games, Intel Core 16 GTX laptop

3 Bose Quiet Comfort wireless headphones

4 Sony 65-inch Ultra HD Oled television

5 Huawei TalkBand B3 fitness tracker