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Thu 23 Apr 2009 05:36 PM

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UAE ranks high on retail destination

CBRE study places UAE 4th, out of 67 countries, in respect to global footprint for 280 retailers.

UAE ranks high on retail destination
TOP SHOP: UAE is a favourite with international retailers, survey shows. (Getty Images)

The UAE has become one of the world’s most international retail markets as brands from around the world flock to the country, according to research by commercial real estate consultant CBRE.The UAE, boosted by Dubai, came in fourth in a CBRE study that mapped the global footprint of 280 of the world’s top retailers across 67 countries.

Middle Eastern countries saw a marked increase in the number of retailers entering the region over the last year, it said.

“Despite the global economic slowdown, many retailers, especially cash-rich private companies, have continued their expansion plans throughout the past 12 months,” said Peter Gold, head of EMEA Cross Border Retail at CBRE.

The UAE jumped two places, to fourth from six, as the percentage of international retailers present rose to 45 from 39.

More retailers are also setting up shop in Saudi Arabia: the largest Arab economy rose to 15th place from 28th, with 37 percent of international brands now present.

The findings could be bad news for Dubai retailers, whose customers include a significant number of Saudi tourists.

Kuwait also tracked significant growth and moved into the top 20 list, ranking 19th, compared with 30th in 2007, with 34 percent of international retailers now present.

For the first time, the CBRE report analysed retail globalisation at a city level.

In that list Dubai came in 4th, Riyadh 28th, Jeddah 45th and Abu Dhabi 48th. London came out on top, followed by Paris and New York.

“Whilst Dubai is now experiencing a plateau in response to the global economic downturn, Abu Dhabi is proving to be much more resilient,” said Mark Morris Jones, director of retail in Abu Dhabi for the firm.

“Its population is one of the most affluent in the region and as the city continues to grow, attracting a flux of foreign workers and tourists, we expect Abu Dhabi to maintain this growth, but at a more sustainable rate.”

The same was true for Riyadh and Jeddah, he added.

Alshaya Co, the largest retailer in the Middle East by number of stores, has said it will be rolling out 200 new stores across the region and Eastern Europe this year.

The company will be introducing five new brands, including office supply specialist Office Depot and US apparel giant Express, which opened in Kuwait last month and will be opening its first Dubai branch in mid May.

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