The clothing business in Dubai exists in its current scope due to its role as a regional commerce center in the Middle East. Dubai, is an emirate that is part of the United Arab Emirates. Its regional business role is in part due to its geographic location, and to the creation of a free trade zone for trading and labor around its airport, Jebel Ali. The banking sector is very strong since many Middle East based businesses safeguard their deposits in Dubai based banks. Residential and commercial real estate development has also been very strong because of the influx of foreign investment. Tourism and business travel is a major component of Dubai’s economy, with Americans, Africans, Arabs, Iranians, and Europeans conducting business in this city state. Recent trade embargoes have impacted the level of commerce between Dubai and Iran.
Dubai’s clothing market is comprised of both domestic and export related segments. The majority of Dubai’s population of 2.2 million people is Arab, with approximately 5% being comprised of workers from Asian countries, with a smaller percentage of expatriate business people taking full time residency.
Domestic clothing purchases are traditional robes for the male and female Arab population. Female clothing should be long sleeve with high necklines. Because Dubai is a more open society than some of the regional surrounding countries, foreign laborers and expatriate business people can wear their choice of clothing, provided that the clothing that women wear is conservative in appearance. In Dubai’s business circles men will wear suits and dress shirts, with some women wearing suits as well. Clothing is generally sold in gender based stores to accommodate religious views.
The weather in Dubai is hot throughout the year, on average over 80 degrees, with winter temperatures of as low as 73 degrees, and summer temperatures of up to 107 degrees. For this reason cotton apparel is preferred, since it keeps the body temperature low and allows for perspiration. Domestically, clothing is sold from small independent shops and from malls, such as the trendy Deira City Center and the BurJuman shopping center. Popular clothing businesses in Dubai include the Golf Clothing Stores and the UAE National Women’s Clothing Shop. Bloomingdales has two local stores as well.
The second segment of the clothing business in Dubai is comprised of the export market. Due to the active and open business channels that exist in Dubai, and its prime gulf location, wholesale clothing is exported throughout the Middle East, and as far as Turkey and Africa. Brand name closeout lots of clothing are sent by container, often to markets where the brand owners do not have an established presence.
In response to strong demand for wholesale American clothing, importers will buy from US wholesalers and resell the clothing to local and foreign boutiques, department stores, and importers. Wholesale showrooms are set up to display merchandise to shoppers that travel to visit the wholesale district. Top sellers are sports wear, jeans, and dresses. Customs in Dubai is strict in monitoring the inflow and sale of apparel, and only authentic clothing is permitted entry into the country.