Dubai Shopping Festival 2008 off to colourful start

(DENNIS B MALLARI)   



A month-long retail bonanza began in earnest last night at the official launch of this year’s Dubai Shopping Festival. Five sons of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, were guests of honour at the opening party hosted by Dubai Festival City shopping mall.

The brothers watched an Aqua Show alongside almost 1,000 onlookers at the celebration. Later, fireworks heralded the start of the 13th annual festival, which in previous years has attracted almost two million people. Retail sales during DSF account for between 25 and 30 per cent of annual volumes. Total spend during last year’s festival totalled Dh10.2 billion.


This year DSF will be happy to match 2007 numbers, said officials. Festival Chief Executive Laila Suhail told Emirates Business: “Last year was exceptional, with a 45-day event that took in Eid, Christmas and the new year, so we don’t want to compare the two. What we look to is 2005, which was also a month-long event, and if we factor in a growth of between five and 10 per cent, that brings us to last year’s numbers.”


Businesses, developers and retailers host promotions and discounts through Dubai Shopping Festival. UAE-based property developer Damac is offering a jet worth Dh5.5m and a Dh1m private island in the Caribbean in a draw for property buyers. Last year, the company offered an Eclipse 500 jet.


“This year we have added a private island in the beautiful and serene Caribbean Sea. The Pelican Caye Island is one of the few private islands on the Turneffe Atoll and is perfect for a personal estate,”

said Chief Executive Peter Riddoch. “Having already given away property on land and an aircraft, we wanted to extend the offer.”


Months of planning have gone into Dubai Shopping Festival, with the city blanketed in promotional material. Jassim Al Marzooqi, DSF events co-ordinator, said: “Decorating the city with lights is a vital part of creating the DSF atmosphere and ushering in the festivities.


“Every year, just as DSF organises innovative activities, we come up with innovative ideas to decorate various locations in Dubai.”


Suhail said: “[The] opening ceremony is a celebration of the huge team effort of the past few months. The DSF office strives towards excellence in all the shopping festivals. This aspiration for raising the bar is inspired by the vision of Sheikh Mohammed, to position Dubai as an international hub for business and tourism.”

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