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The Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) has been an advocate for local business since its inception, 27 years ago. The festival initially started as a way to communicate the vision of Dubai to the world, and promote the local businesses operating within the Emirate.

Since then, it has grown to become the longest running retail festival in the world, and helped establish Dubai as a global shopping destination, featuring many of the world’s best known brands.

Yet despite its success as a driver of Dubai’s economic diversification, DSF has continued to keep the same values at its core: community, local businesses and a strong belief in the ability of the people who call Dubai their home.

“Initially launched to boost local businesses, DSF has now grown into the longest-running retail festival in the world, and with it helped raise the profile of Dubai as a tourist destination offering diverse retail, leisure and entertainment experiences,” said Ahmad Al Khaja, CEO at Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment. “Additionally, through creative initiatives such as the Ladies’ Night Market Series, DSF continues to also provide an established platform for the discovery of homegrown brands made right here in the UAE.”

Now in its 27th edition, DSF continues to focus on local businesses, and this year has put female entrepreneurs at the core of its philosophy. For the first time in the festival’s history, 2022 saw the launch of the Ladies’ Night Markets. A series of pop up events championing female-led businesses, and products made in the UAE.

EXPANDING HORIZONS

As part of the Ladies’ Night Market Series, DSF partnered with Al Misk Exhibitions to showcase creations and products of more than 11 homegrown and regional brands. Visitors to the pop-up market, running until the end of DSF, can shop for one-of-a-kind clothing from Abayas and travel wear to gowns, bags and handicrafts.

As a young female Emirati entrepreneur, Maryam Saraj, founder of Maas Abayas - an online startup boutique selling ready-to-wear midrange Abayas for the modern lady - has benefited from the DSF opportunity. Taking part at the Al Misk x DSF event at City Centre Mirdif, she has seen an expansion of her customer base outside of the UAE, reaching audiences in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

“By being at Al Misk x DSF I’ve gained customers not only in the Emirates but all around the GCC, which never used to happen before,” said Maryam. “As an online boutique, being part of this event has helped raise awareness among new customers who have been able to physically see my designs and experience the quality of the fabrics first hand.”

Maryam added that since her brand's presence at Al Misk x DSF, Maas Abayas has seen an estimated 20 per cent increase in sales.

Within the luxury space, DSF has also partnered with Icons, as part of Ladies’ Night Market Series, to host Icons x DSF during the closing weekend of the festival. This unmissable shopping experience at the Palazzo Versace Hotel will see a selection of hand-picked homegrown and regional brands showcase their collections of luxury lifestyle and fashion creations for both women and children.

NO BETTER PLACE TO BE SEEN

For female entrepreneurs more inclined to the culinary arts, DSF’s The Hub Food Festival, at Majlis Al Khawaneej, has provided a great venue for local startup eateries to be seen and sampled.

As a one-stop destination for family and friends of all ages to grab some delicious bites from local businesses while listening to tunes spun by local DJs, The Hub’s unique outdoor concept has been a DSF success story and continues to welcome visitors until the final day of the Festival on 30 January.  

One of The Hub’s vendors, Abu Dhabi based street food concept, ‘Frizzle’, used the event to introduce their Belgium fries concept to the people of Dubai - an opportunity they’d struggled to find historically.  Founders Hamda Alfalahi and Sarah Alhameli said: “When we first arrived at The Hub, we felt nobody knew our brand in Dubai, but since taking part we’ve been able to build our reputation here.  With The Hub being so well organised, we simply had to rent the space and show up which has really helped a small business like ours that can’t necessarily afford to rent in strategic locations.  It’s given us the opportunity to reach a much wider audience which is hugely beneficial for the future of our business.”

In a country that has just wrapped up celebrations of the Year of the 50th -  looking back at its successes, while also envisioning the next 50 years - there is arguably no better time to invest in the support of local businesses. And DSF, the world’s longest running retail festival, is the ideal platform for brilliant female, and male, entrepreneurs and businesses made in the UAE, to be seen.

For more information on dates and time, please visit @StyledByDubai, @CelebrateDubai, @dsf_markets and #mydsf on social media channels and www.mydsf.ae.

Dubai’s malls, retail stores and attractions are all continuing to adhere to stringent COVID-19 health and safety protocols issued by public health authorities, while taking all the necessary precautions to keep visitors and shoppers safe and at ease.

Source: TALES & HEADS