Arab Luxury World forum set to tackle challenges faced by high-end brands

Co-CEO of Mediaquest Julien Hawari spoke to Arab News about the conference’s focus in 2017. (Photo courtesy: Mediaquest)
Updated 20 May 2017
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Arab Luxury World forum set to tackle challenges faced by high-end brands

DUBAI: The Arab Luxury World forum is set to kick off in Dubai on May 22 and promises to host a stellar line up of international experts.
Organized by Dubai-based publisher Mediaquest Corp., the two-day luxury business conference will feature an agenda of speeches and panel discussions by more than 70 speakers.
The fourth edition of the conference will be held under the theme “Digital Disruption and Emotional Engagement” and serves as a platform for professionals from the premium goods and services market to discuss and debate the latest trends in the industry.
The focus on “Digital Disruption” comes as leading brands in the luxury industry are faced with slowing brick-and-mortar sales while e-commerce platforms vie for the lion’s share of the market.
Co-CEO of Mediaquest Julien Hawari spoke to Arab News about the conference’s focus in 2017.
“The luxury market here in the GCC and the Middle East has been impacted over the past few years on all fronts and retail was not spared. We are witnessing a profound shift and disruption that is impacting the luxury industry.
“The impact that digital disruption will have on the way … business in the luxury industry is being conducted is going to be tremendous,” he said.
“Simultaneously, luxury businesses need to see how to create an emotional engagement with their consumers. How do you create this magic that allows your consumers to come back to your brand, come back to your product?”
The conference brings together global and regional luxury brands, as well as a host of other business leaders related to the premium goods market.
“We have panel sessions with key people from a wide variety of industries; we have keynotes from global and regional leaders; we have exclusive research and exclusive data that is presented during the conference. All of this combined makes Arab Luxury World a unique event,” Hawari said.
The event features keynote speeches by the likes of Jean-Claude Biver, president of the Watches Division at LVMH Group and Chabi Nouri, CEO of Piaget.
However, Hawari is also keen to focus on homegrown luxury brands in the Middle East.
“Homegrown (talent) is a fundamental part of the DNA of Arab Luxury World. We make sure to bring together as many talents from the region as possible… to create one moment in the year where everyone can come together to exchange and learn from each other,” he said.
Although the conference, set to run from May 22-23, takes place in Dubai, Hawari cautions that brands now need to look beyond the glittering city if they wish to remain successful.
“Many brands have been focusing a lot on the UAE, specifically Dubai, and maybe not looking at the rest of the region. Saudi (Arabia) has often been neglected,” he said, adding that some “brands have not been able to create the right connection with the consumer — they relied on a strong global name and that used to be enough (but) consumers in the Gulf have changed.”
“The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) used to be — for many of the brands — a kind of El Dorado, with important growth coming from the region. Consumers were on the lookout to buy new products, to have the latest, to have the best.
“Take Dubai, for example. It has more global brands than many European cities. You have brands coming from Europe, from the States, from Asia and more and it creates important competition.”
But, in such a competitive environment, how do international and homegrown brands stand out?
“To stand out in the luxury business, you need to create a connection with your consumer,” Hawari posits.
This year’s Arab Luxury World has set itself the task of helping luxury brands do just that.


Saudi stocks receive landmark emerging markets upgrade from MSCI

Updated 21 June 2018
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Saudi stocks receive landmark emerging markets upgrade from MSCI

  • Market authorities in Saudi Arabia have introduced a series of reforms in the past 18 months
  • MSCI’s Emerging Market index is tracked by about $2 trillion in active and global funds

LONDON: Saudi Arabian equites are poised to attract up to $40 billion worth of foreign inflows, following a landmark decision by index provider MSCI to include the Kingdom’s stocks in its widely tracked Emerging Markets index.

"MSCI will include the MSCI Saudi Arabia Index in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, representing on a pro forma basis a weight of approximately 2.6% of the index with 32 securities, following a two-step inclusion process," the MSCI said in a statement late on Wednesday night Riyadh time.

“Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in MSCI’s EM Index is a milestone achievement and will likely bring with it significant levels of foreign investment,” Salah Shamma, head of investment for MENA at Franklin Templeton Emerging Markets Equity, told Arab News. 

“It is a recognition of the progress Saudi Arabia has made in implementing its ambitious capital markets transformation agenda. The halo effect of such a move will be felt across the stock exchanges of the entire Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).”

Market authorities in Saudi Arabia have introduced a series of reforms in the past 18 months to bring local capital markets more in line with international norms, including lower restrictions on international investors, and the introduction of short-selling and T+2 settlement cycles.

Such reforms prompted index provider FTSE Russell to upgrade the Kingdom to emerging market status in March, opening the country’s stocks up to billions worth of passive and active inflows from foreign investors.

MSCI’s Emerging Market index is tracked by about $2 trillion in active and global funds. The inclusion of Saudi stocks in the index, alongside FTSE Russell’s upgrade, is forecast to attract as much as $45 billion of foreign inflows from passive and active investors, according to estimates from Egyptian investment bank EFG Hermes. 

The upgrade announcement was widely expected by the region’s investment community, following a similar emerging markets upgrade announcement by fellow index provider FTSE Russell in March. 

“MSCI index inclusion will be a historic milestone for the Saudi market as it will allow for sticky institutional money to make an entry in 2019 which will help deepen the market,” said John Sfakianakis, director of economic research at the Gulf Research Center in Riyadh.