Dubai’s Galleries Lafayette says ‘I do’ to wedding industry

Luxury store debuts bridal service in bid to tap lucrative wedding market
Dubai’s Galleries Lafayette says ‘I do’ to wedding industry
The French retailer hopes to capitalise on the Gulfs growing wedding market
By Elizabeth Broomhall
Tue 20 Sep 2011 12:14 PM

Galleries Lafayette, Dubai’s largest department store, has
launched a standalone wedding section in a bid to break into the Gulf’s
lucrative bridal market.

The French retailer plans to sell everything from rings and
dresses, to catering and honeymoon services, in an effort to become a
one-stop-shop for customers planning a wedding.

Rings will be priced from AED2,000 to AED50,000, while
bridal dresses will range from AED5,000 and AED100,000, the store said.

“The weddings market here is very strong, not just for
locals but a lot of expats tend to have their weddings here,” said marketing
manager Joana Chambel. “Dubai is a wedding destination, and there’s been an
increase in the number of people choosing [it], particularly in the winter
months.”

Many of the Gulf states, including the UAE, have established
marriage funds to aid young nationals in meeting the steep cost of financing
weddings. In Oman, the prohibitively high cost of marriage played a role in the
violent protests that rocked the sultanate earlier this year. Alongside calls
for better pay and working conditions, Omanis wanted a state-backed fund to
help young couples meet marriage costs.

"More than half of Omani men earn, monthly, under
OR700. It's impossible for them to finance their wedding,” legal advocate Mohammed Al Shahri, told Reuters.

“Eventually they get themselves into a debt quagmire within
the early years of a marriage [and] the majority of divorces occur due to
underlying financial issues."

According to Euromonitor International, the number of
married couples in the UAE rose from 2.2 million in 2005 to 2.5 million in
2009. The number of married couples in the Gulf state is expected to reach 3.3
million in 2020, representing more than 57 percent of the population.

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