UAE has ranked 10th globally as big spending Russian, Chinese tourists seek out luxury watches
The UAE has ranked first among Arab countries and 10th globally on a list of countries importing luxury Swiss watches in 2018.
The volume of UAE imports amounted to 910.4 million Swiss francs (AED3.36 billion; $910 million), with an annual growth rate of 1.7 percent compared to 2017, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FHS).
According to its annual report, Hong Kong topped the list in terms of volume of imports, which amounted to 3001.4 billion Swiss francs, a growth of 19.1 percent compared to 2017.
The United States came in second place globally, while China made a leap to third place, registering a growth rate of 11.7 percent, followed by Japan and the United Kingdom in fourth and fifth place respectively.
The UAE was the only Arab country listed among the top 10 countries importing Swiss watches, while Saudi Arabia ranked 13th, with imports amounting to 344.4 million Swiss francs and a growth rate of 5.9 percent.
The growth in demand for Swiss watches in the UAE is primarily attributed to the growing number of tourists visiting the UAE annually, especially the class of elite tourists visiting the country from China and Russia.
Leading Swiss watchmaking companies have maintained their strong presence in the UAE market through exclusive agents of various Swiss watch brands, as well as through the opening of their own mono brand boutiques in major shopping malls across the country, especially in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
Globally, exports of luxury Swiss watches saw a growth of 6.3 percent during 2018 to 21 billion Swiss francs, with experts expecting further growth in 2019.