Nearly 17,000 fake watches were seized as part of a raid on an apartment in Dubai, following an investigation by a trade association representing Swiss watch manufacturers.
In a bid to crack down on the supply of fake watches into Europe, the Bern-based Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FSWI) sent investigators to Dubai to track down those involved in the manufacturing of counterfeit timepieces.
“New investigators were put on the case, using more direct and invasive methods,” the FSWI said. “In just a few weeks, our men discovered an assembly workshop run by Chinese nationals, concealed in a private apartment. The police raid seized nearly 17,000 fake Swiss watches... a major breakthrough,” it added.
Owners of designer clothing stores, gaming distributors and music shops in Dubai have for a long time called for better regulation to tackle the ongoing issue of piracy and counterfeit products in the emirate.
Companies say their revenues are taking a hit where imports of counterfeit goods go undetected, dropping anywhere between 20 and 60 percent due to lower sales.
“Piracy and counterfeit products for DVDs and music is a big issue in the UAE as it negatively impacts sales for retailers,” said Varto Basmajian, music and video regional product manager at Virgin Megastore.
“Whilst this region has rules against counterfeit goods and piracy, these restrictions are not being reinforced at the level of severity that is needed in order to make a difference and bring the consumer back to the shop.
“It is difficult to measure the exact revenue loss, but we estimate it to be approximately 20-30 percent in our industry.”
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which represents the music industry worldwide and has closed 300,000 illegal websites, is also missing in the Middle East, he said.
According to Dubai Customs data, authorities detected as many as 689 cases of intellectual property infringement in 2010, with the majority of smugglers using the airport to bring in counterfeit goods.
Shipments included anything from CDs, DVDs, shoes, clothes, telephones, baggage and watches, to construction equipment, car parts and food supplements.
In Dubai, stalls selling counterfeit designer clothes and accessories are rife in places such as Karama and the Bur Dubai.