The Cost of Christmas: Festive Season in Dubai


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In this latest blog, you will learn about:

  • The role the Christmas season plays in the Dubai economy
  • The extent of recent economic growth around Christmas time in Dubai
  • The reason for the popularity of Christmas in Dubai

Christmas In Dubai

The UAE revels in the festive season and the family oriented approach of Christmas. As a nation built on a tradition of family values and togetherness, the festive season is the perfect time for residents to celebrate with friends and family – and enjoy a little bit of retail therapy while they are there, sharing gifts with each other and embrace the goodwill and sense of enchantment that the festivities bring.

Furthermore, the role of foreign expats in driving the market should not be underestimated during this season too. Bringing customs from their home countries is something that is very popular amongst the expat community in Dubai, and this is a driving force behind the swelling of the market. 

In this blog, we’ll take a look at just how important Christmas is to the Dubai economy, and where its impact can be most felt. 

Christmas Spending in Dubai

According to extensive research conducted by Majid Al Futtaim Group, the final quarter of 2021 saw a 6.1% growth in retail spending in comparison to the rest of the year – an indication of constant growth throughout the year that peaked during the festive season.

QoQ Retail Economy Performance

Amongst this spending, there was a massive spike in ecommerce sales across pretty much every online industry you can think of. The consumer spend index of general retail spiked from 249 to 406, fashion spending increased over 10% across online and instore platforms, and hypermarket/supermarket spending rocketed too – a sure sign that the festivities were enjoyed across the board in this multicultural hub. There is every reason to believe that this trend will continue in 2022, with economic growth reported for every quarter of the year so far. 

E-com Consumer Spend Index - Retail Economy

Furthermore, November and December of 2021 saw a breakthrough of consumer spending in leisure areas finally above 2019 levels – and by 16%. This was fuelled by the tactical release of new movies, tying in to the family oriented season and increase in family days out together.

Full details of consumer spending in retail across Christmas 2021 can be found in the linked report at the bottom of this blog. It’s a fascinating read!

Festivities in the dining sector focus on brunch deals for Christmas and New Year, with packages starting from AED 100 to as high as AED 20,000 all being snapped up to celebrate the season. Where there is supply of festive dining in Dubai, there is demand.

Overall, the festive season has been an opportunity for local residents to enjoy themselves, splurge on their favourite gifts, and treat loved ones to presents and experiences. It has created a feel good factor across the region that is reflected in consumer behaviour that we expect to be replicated in 2022.

Overall Effect of Christmas on Dubai Economy

To state that the boost given to the Dubai Economy at Christmas time is driven solely by residents would overlook a fundamental core of the market – tourism.

Dubai is the home of winter sun, particularly for Europeans looking to escape the colder climbs of their home countries.

Across 2021, Western Europe made up 22% of the global proportion of travellers to Dubai, which peaked during cooler months. Combined with the 15% proportion of Eastern European travellers, Europe in its entirety was responsible for over a third of tourism to the UAE last year. 

With them, they bring their customs and traditions, which contribute to the celebration of Christmas at the city’s local bars and restaurants. Brunches are typically very popular amongst this community as holidaymakers look for a unique way to celebrate the festive season. 

While there is of course a great migration of local residents during the winter season, this is more than counteracted by the influx of tourists looking for a different experience to their usual Christmas.

Christmas Tree

Christmas in Dubai

Christmas has most certainly been adopted as a thriving festive season in Dubai. A combination of strong family values, expat residents looking to extend their customs in a winter sun location, and built up demand for a wholesome spending splurge post-covid is helping the region become a hotspot location to spend Christmas.

We recently wrote a blog about the potential of e-commerce businesses in Dubai. Having presented the data behind the growth of ecom – particularly in the context of christmas – if you are looking to take your first steps into the market, we are experienced in launching businesses in this sector.

Connect with us today and reap the benefits of a thriving economy in the city of Dubai and beyond – just in time for Christmas.