Dubai is Quickly And Quietly Becoming The World’s Next Great Retail Capital

Posted on Categories Apparel

(Source via Fashionista)

When Condé Nast International announced last July that it was set to launch Vogue Arabia, the news took off. The magazine, created in partnership with Dubai-based media company Nervora, marks one of the publisher’s earliest forays into the Middle East (it already issues regional editions of Architectural Digest and Condé Nast Traveller), and media brands — present company included — were quick to bite, reporting on how the title would publish a dual-language website in Arabic and English first in the fall, followed by a print product come spring. A New York profile titled “The Anna Wintour of the Middle East” about Vogue Arabia’s Editor in Chief, Saudi Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz, went viral earlier this month. The magazine felt fresh, smart and elegant, and is also indicative of a larger movement throughout Dubai.

Amid the excitement, there was also much discussion about what, exactly, took Condé Nast so long. The environment in the Middle East, especially within Dubai, is ripe for a fashion media brand of Vogue Arabia’s scale. The United Arab Emirates (where Vogue Arabia is headquartered) has ample spending power with the most diversified economy in the Gulf Cooperation Council and no shortage of high-net-worth individuals as residents. As of 2016, Dubai was ranked the 21st most expensive city in the world and the most expensive in the Middle East; according to a February WWD report, Arab consumers spent $320 billion on luxury fashion in 2016, and that number is expected to grow to $490 billion by 2019.

The broader region boasts one of the largest and youngest populations on Earth: “Over 350 million people are in the Arab world, and in most countries, more than half of the population is under the age of 26,” says Shashi Menon, publisher of Vogue Arabia and founder/CEO of Nervora. “There’s an extremely large long-term opportunity here.”

Vogue Arabia hit a sweet spot with luxury advertisers, many of whom have spent years working overtime to capture millennial, and now Generation Z, buying power. Menon says Vogue Arabia’s digital launch was “heavily subscribed,” with both display and native campaigns from the likes of Chanel, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Bulgari, Dior, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, Tiffany & Co. and more.

In line with the Middle East’s youthful demographic is the rise of mobile and a wider interest in e-commerce in turn. To meet that demand, in November, Yoox Net-a-Porter Group revealed a joint partnership with Symphony Investments — an entity chaired by Mohamed Alabbar of the Dubai-based retail giant Alabbar Enterprises — to expand in the Middle Eastand open an office and distribution center in Dubai by the end of 2017. (The move had been in the works at least since last April, when together the two groups raised €100 million.)

 

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