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

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 Arabia has lion’s share of regional philanthropy

Updated 4 min 5 sec ago

Saudi Arabia has lion’s share of regional philanthropy

Nearly three quarters of philanthropic foundations in the Middle East are concentrated in Saudi Arabia, according to a new report.

The study, conducted by researchers at Harvard Kennedy School’s Hauser Institute with funding from Swiss bank UBS, also found that resources were highly concentrated in certain areas with education the most popular area for investment globally.

That trend was best illustrated in the Kingdom, where education ranked first among the target areas of local foundations.

While the combined assets of the world’s foundations are estimated at close to $1.5 trillion, half have no paid staff and small budgets of under $1 million. In fact, 90 percent of identified foundations have assets of less than $10 million, according to the Global Philanthropy Report. 

Developed over three years with inputs from twenty research teams across nineteen countries and Hong Kong, the report highlights the magnitude of global philanthropic investment.

A rapidly growing number of philanthropists are establishing foundations and institutions to focus, practice, and amplify these investments, said the report.

In recent years, philanthropy has witnessed a major shift. Wealthy individuals, families, and corporations are looking to give more, to give more strategically, and to increase the impact of their social investments.

Organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have become increasingly high profile — but at the same time, some governments, including India and China, have sought to limit the spread of cross-border philanthropy in certain sectors.

As the world is falling well short of raising the $ 5-7 trillion of annual investment needed to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, UBS sees the report findings as a call for philanthropists to work together to scale their impact.

Understanding this need for collaboration, UBS has established a global community where philanthropists can work together to drive sustainable impact.

Established in 2015 and with over 400 members, the Global Philanthropists Community hosted by UBS is the world’s largest private network exclusively for philanthropists and social investors, facilitating collaboration and sharing of best practices.

Josef Stadler, head of ultra high net worth wealth, UBS Global Management, said: “This report takes a much-needed step toward understanding global philanthropy so that, collectively, we might shape a more strategic and collaborative future, with philanthropists leading the way toward solving the great challenges of our time.”

This week Saudi Arabia said it would provide an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid in Syria, through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.

The UAE also this week said it had contributed $192 million to a housing project in Afghanistan through the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.