‘The tradition continues, but content and services improve’

KEITH J FERNANDEZ pinned down DSF CEO Saeed Al Nabouda for a look at where the Dubai Shopping Festival is going
Saeed Al Nabouda

So what’s special about this tenth edition?
This year’s festival is the ultimate. We’re hosting 150 events, we’ve got new shows and activities lined up and existing events have been given a new flavour.

We have a new website and are hosting 15 new country pavilions at the Global Village, including Australia, Switzerland and the UK. There’s Dh100 million to be won in prizes this year, in terms of cash, cars, shopping vouchers – you can expect the world’s best prizes at the DSF. Services are one area the committee is really focussing on – we’re determined to make information available easily and the events completely hassle free.

How has the festival changed, then?
Like Dubai has changed – dramatically. The existing year’s festival that serves as the benchmark for the next year. The Global Village, for example, has grown from a couple of kiosks to 79 days of endless activities. The tradition continues, but content and services will improve.

Let’s talk numbers: visitors and spending.
We’re expecting to see last year’s 3.1 million visitor numbers rise by five per cent, while in terms of total spending, we’ll definitely go past Dh6 billion (2004: Dh5.8 billion). Only 45 per cent is shopping, the rest is eating out, transportation and so on. That’s on an investment of Dh100 million.

Where’s the DSF going to be 10 years from now?
Where Dubai is. Somewhere high up on the world stage. People have seen and experienced only the beginning, only 20 per cent of the vision has been accomplished.

What goals are ahead of you?
Four: impacting the economy through the DSF, creating Dubai as the ultimate family destination in the world, building a cosmopolitan world culture as is evident in the theme – One World, One Family, One Festival – all with the ultimate goal of showcasing Dubai.

In the near future, what can we look out for?
We will go with the market’s needs and expectations. As new projects come ready, we will involve them, like Dubailand this year. The Palm will follow soon.
We will soon be aiming at the US and other new source markets. That’s part of Emirates’ growth, part of the DTCM’s growth plan – eventually, it all lines up into One World and One Family. In the future, the whole world truly will be a global village.