With such a diverse population, understanding consumer behavior in the UAE can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are three key tips to help you succeed in the UAE market.

London. Paris. New York. Dubai?

The Emirati penchant for spending has turned Dubai into one of the world’s hottest shopping destinations.

That’s because UAE consumers are big spenders. They’ll happily open their wallets for their favorite brands, with 34% saying they’d buy from certain brands, no matter the cost.

But UAE shoppers have high expectations, and earning their loyalty isn’t easy. So what does consumer behavior in the UAE look like? What do consumers want exactly, and how can you meet their needs?


There’s no way around it: UAE customers are hard to impress.

First, customer service is important. 75% of customers in the Middle East prefer shopping from a single brand website (as opposed to a multi-branded one) because they believe it will provide the best possible customer experience.

But by customer service, they mean more than just a seamless order, delivery and returns process. 65% of customers expect brands to know them personally and treat them individually – 9% higher than the global average.

This can take the form of exclusive rewards and benefits, a draw for 69% of Emirati shoppers. But 43% also said having their own personal advisor for purchases would encourage higher, more frequent spending.

So if you want customers to connect with your brand in the UAE, make sure your CRM is effective and highly personalized, and that your website offers the best possible experience for your brand. If you’re a fashion brand, consider providing some kind of product advice functionality on your website, too.


The UAE is a ready-made market for luxury brands – wealthy citizens and tourism are big drivers for the sector.

In fact, Dubai alone accounts for 30% of the Middle East’s luxury market. One study found that UAE citizens spend around 30% of their salary – or $1,883 (£1,450) a month – on luxury goods.

To appeal to this luxury mindset, you can emphasize the quality, craftsmanship and status of your brand. The UAE was recently eighth in a list of countries whose consumers are trading up from mid-market brands. So highlight the luxury aspects of your product and manufacturing processes to differentiate your brand. Having an established brand abroad will also give you an advantage, as overseas products account for 58% of all purchases

So who’s getting it right in the UAE? Take a look at Tesla.

When they launched their flagship Model S and X cars, they also opened a pop-up shop in Dubai Mall, a Tesla Ranger support service and service center. This tapped into UAE consumers’ love of malls and provided the excellent customer service they demand.

And Tesla took things even further. Elon Musk invested millions into the UAE’s infrastructure for electric cars, positioning the brand at the vanguard of the future and affording it a luxury status.

The brand also added 50 cars to the limo fleet of taxis in Dubai to show off their luxury credentials. The result? They’ve been a huge hit with consumers, clocking 64,000 trips in just six months.


Only 27.8% of the UAE’s population is female.

So you might think the way to succeed in the country would be to target almost exclusively to the male population. However, you’d be wrong.

Women influence 80% of all purchases in Dubai, so no matter who you are, it would be foolish to overlook the female demographic in your marketing strategy.

It’s also worth noting the split in the UAE when it comes to shopping. Female Emirati citizens spend 43% of their income on fashion shopping – triple that of the expat population. And a third of these Emirati women spend over 60% of their monthly income on shopping.

So if you’re a female fashion brand, focus your marketing on Emirati women – it could reap lucrative rewards.

Jollibee knows all too well how crucial segmentation leads to success in the UAE.

The Filipino fast-food chain took the UAE by storm, largely by targeting the country’s expat community.

They were so successful that when their first store opened in 2015, crowd control was called in to manage the queues. Jollibee is now planning further expansion in the region. They want to open 30 stores in the country by 2020. And although a large segment of Jollibee’s customers is from the Philippines, a growing number is from other nations, too.

Incidentally, their approach of targeting expats has also been successful in the UK. When Jollibee opened their first British restaurant last month, people lined up for 18 hours to order a Chickenjoy meal.


UAE consumers want to receive excellent service and feel valued by your brand.

To succeed, initially focus on a single consumer group. This should give you enough of a foothold in the market to widen your reach. But for long-term impact, you’ll need to offer excellent levels of personalized customer service. Show your customers you care and you’ll earn devoted brand followers.