While the world's great shopping destinations have been climbing over each other with efforts to lure traveling Arab customers into their stores, a new survey has revealed they need not have bothered. It seems when Arab shoppers head off to spend, they like to stay close to home.
Much money has been spent on and much publicity has been given to Hong Kong's efforts to strengthen ties with Middle Eastern tourists, for example through the Hong Kong Tourism Board website ( http://www.discoverhongkong.com).
But it appears to have made limited impact on the market it targets, according to a survey released this week by Yahoo! Maktoob Research ( http://www.maktoob-research.com).
Only three percent of respondents to the survey ranked Hong Kong as their most favored shopping destination.
Instead, 32 percent said they preferred to head to the dazzling malls of Dubai, which beat out the likes of traditional shopping centers such as London, Paris and New York.
Dubai boasts a series of sprawling shopping malls, including the Dubai Mall (situated next to the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa) and the Mall of the Emirates (which boats an indoor ski slope).
And the survey news is timely as the city is about to host the 16th edition of its annual Dubai Shopping Festival ( http://mydsf.ae), which will run for 32 days and nights from January 20. It is expected to lure an additional 3.5 million tourists to the city.
Paris was the second-ranked city in the shopping survey, with 13 per cent of respondents choosing the French capital, followed by Beijing, Istanbul and London in joint third with 5 percent, the survey found.
"Dubai has an exciting mix of amenities that give customers a truly unique and pleasurable shopping experience. Moreover, Dubai's impressive collection of international brands and retail outlets rival those of any other shopping city in the world - a key attribute that gives the Emirate a distinctive edge as the best shopping destination in the Arab World," Eyad Ali Abdul Rahman, Executive Director Media Relation Division & Business Development at the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, told the Ameinfo.com website.
Most popular destinations for Arab shoppers (2,900 people polled): 1. Dubai (United Arab Emirates) 32 percent; 2. Paris (France) 13 percent; 3. Beijing (China), Istanbul (Turkey), London (United Kingdom) five percent; 4. New York (United States) four percent; 5. Beirut (Lebanon), Hong Kong (China) three percent; 6. Bangkok (Thailand), Tokyo (Japan), Milan (Italy), Barcelona (Spain), Marrakech (Morocco) two percent; 7. Amsterdam (Netherlands), Madrid (Spain), Singapore (Singapore), Munich (Germany), Sydney (Australia) one percent.