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City Overview

Over the past decade Dubai has established itself a globally recognised retail tourism destination, attracting millions of visitors each year from across the globe, with 15.8 million overnight visitors recorded in 2017.  During this time Dubai has become synonymous with luxury travel and luxury retailing, and is home to many of the world’s more prestigious and coveted brands.  Importantly, Dubai has also cemented its position as the location of choice for international retailers looking to enter the Middle East retail space, with the emirate becoming a stepping stone for franchises to rollout their brands and new store concepts across the wider region.  This is reflected in Dubai's position in first place in CBRE's How Global is the Business of Retail 2017, in terms of international brand presence.

A key component of Dubai's highly successful tourism strategy has been the promotion of major shopping events, including the ‘Dubai Shopping Festival’ (DSF) and ‘Dubai Summer Surprises’, events which provide a significant boost to the emirate’s annual visitor numbers and overall retail revenues.  The Dubai Shopping Festival has become a brand in itself, and is now recognised not just in the Middle East, but also internationally.  The timing of these events has also been important, with DSF often falling alongside major holiday periods, such as Christmas and Chinese New Year, as well as other regional holiday periods, which has helped to draw in tourists from key source markets.

A total of 59 new retailers entered the Dubai market during 2017 including Robinsons, American Girl and Pain De Sucre, with the majority of the new brands originated from Europe and the US, with a lesser number from Asia and elsewhere.  This trend is perhaps driven by the economic situation in home markets, with Europe in particular still struggling to fully emerge from a prolonged economic slump.  As a result retailers continue to look for alternatives in order to drive future expansion capacity with Dubai offering retailers a viable option to more mature markets, and without some of the risk normally associated with an emerging market.  Importantly, it also offers significant growth potential and a consumer base who like to spend.  However, even in Dubai, the market is feeling the strain of the strong US dollar, which combined with the impact of On-line Retailing, has resulted in a softening of sales performance and has created a more challenging retail environment.

Dubai’s food and beverage (F&B) continues to attract significant interest from both international and home grown restaurant brands, with Fogo De Chao, STK and Flamingo Room some of the latest international names to open their doors to the public.  Despite challenging global and regional economic and political conditions, there appears to be continued growth in the F&B sector, albeit the attrition rate of new restaurants remains quite high.  

Certainly, there continues to be significant spending on socialising and eating out in Dubai from both local and expatriate residences, which is further supplemented by the growing tourist numbers.  Whilst it is clear that the market is becoming increasingly competitive, there remains tangible opportunities for well positioned concepts, particularly those which bring new experiences to the market.

2017 saw the opening of a number of important retail facilities in Dubai, including new community malls, retail strips and extensions to existing shopping centres.  This included the second phase of La Mer, Marsa Al Seef, Springs Souk and the Dubai Mall Fashion Extension.

Things to do



Emaar's masterplan 'Downtown Dubai' contains a number of largescale developments, including one of the world's largest malls, 'Dubai Mall', and the current world's tallest building, 'Burj Khalifa', a must see in terms of size and scale.


'La Mer', developed by Meraas, is a new beachfront retail destination located in Jumeira.  With an F&B orientated mix, the development offers visitors an attractive environment to eat and with views overlooking the Arabian Gulf.  'Marsa Al Seef', also developed by Merass Jumeirah, also offers a similar mix of F&B and retail, overlooking the Dubai Creek.

And be seen


The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has become an established F&B destination, with a host of high quality international restaurant such as Zuma, Goucho and La Petite Maison located within 'Gate Village'.  The estate also caters to a wider demographic of diners, with restaurant chain brands also located within other areas of the ddevelopment. Newer retail developments including City Walk, La Mer and Marsa Al Seef also offer a wide variety of both locally grown and international F&B outlets.


Dubai offers a wide array of different drinking options.  However, one of the most established and largest is 'Barasti Bar', which is located at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi.  Barasti has become a true Dubai establishment, and is most popular during the cooler winter months, when the extensive outdoor spaces can be enjoyed.

Be Merry

More highbrow and refined drinking options can be found within the Emirate's mulitple hotels and mixed-use developments, including many options at DIFC, Grosvenor House, Emirates Towers, Madinat Jumeirah and Habtoor City.

Other Cities in United Arab Emirates

Contact Us

Zeynep Sarsar
Emaar Square Building 6, 5th Floor
P.O. Box 506961
+971 4 437 7201 |