DUBAI- arab luxury world, the conference dedicated to the business of luxury in the Middle East,was held on June 2 and 3 at the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi and was organized by Mediaquest.
The two-day event attracted more than 500 industry leaders and experts, brands and designers, retailers and mall operators, agents and distributors,marketers and advertisers to share their experiences and insights, and discuss the outlook, challenges and opportunities of the region’s evolving luxury sector.
“The inaugural arab luxury world conference was very well received. It provided a much-needed platform for savvy industry professionals to connect with one another and have meaningful conversations about the issues that matter the most,”says Julien Hawari, Co-CEO of Mediaquest Corp.“The caliber of partners, speakers and panelists who joined the conference was not only impressive, but a true reflection of the wide range of businesses that make up the luxury landscape today,”adds Alexandre Hawari, Co-CEO of Mediaquest.
The conference was packed with keynote addresses, panel discussions, breakout sessions and workshops from speakers and panelists, who addressed a wide array of industries, from fashion and accessories, to beauty, cars, arts, culture and tourism,as well as issues set to shape the luxury economy in the future, such as retail models, e-commerce, customers and shopping experiences, and branding and marketing, to name but a few.
Julien Hawariset the agenda for the conference, along with Alain Lorenzo, President and CEO of LVMH Fragrance Brands,who spoke about the role of tradition in the luxury industry today.
The following discussion centered on innovation as a key driver for luxury in the Middle East region.Rémy Oudghiri, Director of Trends and Insights at IPSOS, presented the results of a recent research paper that states that while the Middle East shares global values on luxury, it stands out from other regions for seeking the most innovative products and styles.“Everything that is new is prized in the Middle East region.Luxury is a symbol of the future,” said Oudghiri. Another surprising perspective,which sets the region apart from the global view, is its belief that perfumes and fragrances best exemplify luxury.
The first day closed with a panel dedicated to digital, ‘It’s All About Content’. Darius Labelle, Head of Creative Strategies MENA at Havas Digital, discussed the changes underway in media and content, the multiscreen model for content distribution and consumption, and how trends in advertising spend can help drive luxury content online in the future. Amira Rashad, Head of Media at Yahoo! Middle East, Africa and Turkey,added that brands have become more aware of the role of user-generated content in building brand awareness, reputation and relationships.
On the second day,Albert Momdijan, Founder and CEO of Sokotra Capital, sat on The ‘Tourist Effect’ panel, and provided a detailed and insightful overview of the tourism market in the UAE, and the impact on the luxury retail sector. In 2013, 11 million tourists visited Dubai, a 10.6 per cent increase from 2012, and 28 per cent of visitors to Dubai were from Russia, the UK and France.
Dimitri Vazelakis, Executive Managing Director of Shopping Malls at Majid Al Futtaim Properties, supported the inference of tourism on retail and cited the Mall of the Emirates as an example:a shopping destination geared towards people seeking luxury brands. As a result, it has expanded its premium and luxury retail offerings and added a host of tourist services.
One of the conference’s most talked about sessions, dedicated to understanding the ‘Arab consumer’, focused on GCC consumers’ behaviors toward luxury.Nadine Touma, Head of Market and Consumer Intelligence, Chalhoub Group, presented the Group’s latest survey that highlighted three consumer trends that govern the luxury sector in the Middle East. First is the ‘quest for indulgence’ – 94 per cent of respondents go shopping ‘whenever they feel like it’ and spend an average of $2,400 per month. The second trend is the‘need for recognition’ –90 per cent of respondents in Riyadh want to wear items with visible branding. Finally, regional consumers also have a ‘longing for bonds’ – 79 per cent of respondents in the GCC region rank their friends and families as their biggest influence on decision making.