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Wed 12 Mar 2008 01:24 PM

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Retail boom curbs global slowdown

The retail phenomenon in the Middle East is robust enough to withstand a US-led global economic downturn, according to an industry expert.

The retail phenomenon in the Middle East is robust enough to withstand a US-led global economic downturn, according to an industry expert.

"With the Middle East retail sector estimated to be worth in excess of US$100 billion annually, second only to residential property in the non-oil economy, the issue is of critical importance, but one which the GCC economies can cope with," said Naomi Koningen, Project Manager of Retail City 2008, organised by IIR Middle East.

"Dubai, in particular, has one of the most saturated retail environments in the world and is the regional hub for retail therapy accounting for a quarter of the total retail space in the GCC.

"However, according to the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) Dubai's tourist arrivals grew to 5.1 million in the first nine months of 2007, almost five times the size of Dubai's population," Koningen said.

Retail City will take place from June 1 to 3 at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre, set to welcome global retailers, investors, shopping centre developers, franchise networks, shopping centre managements, architects and regional authorities.

"The current global credit crunch may have emanated in America but in most emerging markets, local sources of economic growth, including consumer spending, have firmly taken root," Koningen added.

This year's event will feature two pavilions dedicated to retailers, malls and operators. Retailers from emerging markets will have the chance to network and exhibit to expand their brand and put themselves in direct contact with mall management, retail developers, investors and operators.

The Malls and Operators Pavilion will provide regional operators with the opportunity to promote their services and activities to retailers from local and emerging markets.

The prestigious Retail City Awards will also take place at the June event rewarding excellence in the retail industry, with categories such as Emerging Market Retailer, Retailer of the Year, Corporate Social Responsibility, Architectural Designer, Franchise Operator, Mall of the Year and World's Best Retail Destination.

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