x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Emirates Palace's new bullion ATM sells out

A gold dispensing machine at the hotel in Abu Dhabi ran out yesterday within 24 hours of being unveiled.

The UAE has traditionally tempted buyers of gold jewellery rather than bullion.
The UAE has traditionally tempted buyers of gold jewellery rather than bullion.

ABU DHABI // A gold dispensing machine at Emirates Palace sold out within a day of being unveiled. Although capable of holding up to 300 pieces, the Gold To Go ATM carried only 100 for its debut on Wednesday night, according to Thomas Geissler, the chief executive of Ex Oriente Lux, the creators of the machine. The first piece of gold - a one-ounce bar - was presented as a token of respect to Sheikha Fatima bint Mohammed, known as the "mother of the nation".

The same night, two men each spent almost Dh20,000 buying every one of the 10 gold products on offer, according to Mr Geissler. By yesterday afternoon, the machine had to be re-stocked after proving popular with other tourists and residents. Taking particular interest in the South African Krugerrand embossed gold coins, 15 members of the Franssen family, on holiday from the Netherlands, spent Dh525 purchasing three one-gram gold bars.

"I know the gold prices are climbing in Europe at the moment," said Emile Franssen, 35, a lawyer. "So we are not going to lose money on it. I travelled all the way to the UAE to buy German gold." Pradeep Unni, a senior research analyst of gold and currency with Richcomm Global Services in Dubai, said the EU's bailout of Greece was one factor that had prompted the value of gold to increase recently. "It is the right investment at the moment," Mr Unni said.

Traditionally, the UAE has tempted those seeking jewellery rather than bullion. "People come here to buy gold in the form of jewellery because it is safe and for the design and quality," Mr Unni said. "But this will tempt residents to buy and invest in gold. It could trigger a demand in retail buying of gold as an investment." Kamal Farran, 55, a project manager with an import company in Abu Dhabi, said he planned to buy his wife a Gold To Go coin.

"The sizes are unique," he said. "These designs are not available in the market. I don't think you can find them anywhere but in this machine." The machine's earliest customers appear to have made a slight loss on their investment. For while the price of gold made significant jumps earlier in the week, reaching a record high on Wednesday as the first customers began using the machine, it dipped in value yesterday.

According to Mohamed al Foulathi, an engineer and businessman who is an investor with Gold To Go, the idea was to develop the device and spread it to the region and beyond. "It will start in Abu Dhabi," he said. "Especially at Emirates Palace. Anything to do with gold has to come to Abu Dhabi and then go on through to the world." @Email:sbhattacharya@thenational.ae