x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

'I've come to Dubai for the sales and bargains'

Progress UAE: Big-spending Chinese and Russian tourists boost city

DUBAI // Lin Lin Yam is struggling under the weight of her bulging Fendi shopping bags. It's been a long day at Mall of the Emirates for the Chinese national, who is in Dubai on a week-long holiday.

"I've come for the sales," she said. "I heard from a friend who came here last year you can get good deals on luxury brands.

"It is my first time in Dubai. It is very hot, so I will mostly visit shopping malls when I am here."

Ms Yam is part of a growing number of Chinese visitors who are opting to spend their holidays, and money, in the UAE's malls and hotels.

Last year, Dubai saw a 28 per cent increase in tourists from China and a 54 per cent rise in Russian visitors, according to statistics from the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

Since Chinese and Russian nationals now constitute some of the biggest-spending tourists in the world, shops in the country have taken measures to tap into that revenue, said Fuad Mansoor Sharaf, from Majid Al Futtaim, which operates malls throughout the UAE.

"The number of people from China and Russia is increasing on a yearly basis to the extent that retailers went to the trouble of recruiting Russian and Chinese employees just to make the customers' lives easier."

Ian Albert, regional director for Colliers International, said the UAE's tourism industry had been boosted by recent troubles within the region.

"The UAE has benefited from the regional strife," he said. "Even though it's the summer now, Dubai is busy.

"People from the region normally go on holiday to Beirut, Egypt and a lot of them have holiday homes in southern Syria. All three of those locations are currently closed down, and have been for two years."

According to the DTCM, the number of visitors from Saudi Arabia increased by 30 per cent last year.

Omar Hasan, 42 from Riyadh, said he decided to take his family to Dubai for a summer holiday rather than Beirut. "Dubai is a bit hotter, so we can't enjoy outside as much," he said. "But there are more things to do indoors here, and it's safer."