For some, filling out raffle tickets after a retail spending spree is amusing because such wins are unheard of in India. Most skip it, calling it a scam. It’s different in Dubai.
At this year’s Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), among a host of lucky winners were Indians including Karan Pitani, a 21-year-old visitor from Gujarat who won 1 kg gold; Nithera Janardhanan, a 28-day-old baby who won gold and diamond jewellery worth AED 1,40,000; and Shanza Pulikkal, a five-year-old who won a Nissan Sentra after her grandfather entered her name in the lottery ticket.
The website of the Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group (DGJG), a trade body that started off as a group of jewellery retailers while participating in the DSF’s first edition in 1996, shows that out of 49 draws for 1 kg gold, 5 kg gold and 1 carat solitaire diamond during DSF 2015, 31 winners were Indians.
And there is more for others wanting to try their luck. “This year is unique because numerous Nissan and Infiniti luxury cars, 100 kg of gold and 40 carat diamonds are up for grabs as raffle wins,” says Laila Mohammed Suhail, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), the agency under whose supervision the festival is organised.
What makes Dubai an interesting proposition for Indians is the proximity, the focus the emirate puts on the Asian community — 2 billion Indians live in the Emirate — while planning over 150 calendar events during the festival, and discounts and offers not just on international retail brands but even on gold. According to DGJG, Asians — mostly those from the Indian subcontinent, Chinese and Arabs — are the biggest buyers of gold during DSF and summer promotions.
Spanning 32 days of shopping, lucky contests and family entertainment, the extravaganza completes two decades this year. And it is looking bigger and better with over 70 malls and 6,000 retail outlets doling out discounts of up to 75% on international brands. Till February 1 — when the fest ends — the agency expects a 5-10% rise in the number of visitors.
The event, whose success recipe, Suhail claims, is the perfect partnership between the government and the private sector, has seen a rising influx of visitors, from 1.6 million in 1996 to 4.3 million in 2012. “Its contribution towards Dubai’s economy has been phenomenal: From 1996 to 2014, DSF attracted approximately 56 million visitors with a total spending of AED 145 billion – whether it was for shopping, hospitality or entertainment,” Suhail says. The retail season makes a major contribution towards the emirate’s economy.
From fashion shows to Europe’s famous ballet performers and street food to fine-dining at five-star hotels such as the Sheraton at the Mall of Emirates to Shangri La, DSF has a lot on its plate to offer those looking for an all-round experience.
“DSF is a great success story and a role model of what excellent collaboration between the government and private sectors can achieve,” Suhail said.
Organised by DFRE, under the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, this year’s festival is being held under the theme, ‘A Journey of Celebrations’. DSF forms part of the emirate’s strategy to use festivals and events as a means to drive tourism growth in line with Dubai’s Tourism Vision 2020.
By Amrita Das
(Travel for this report was sponsored by Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment)