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Outlook for electronics industry bright in Dubai

City’s logistics and connectivity help traders ship in latest products

By Saifur Rahman, Business Editor
17:29 October 1, 2012

Dubai: The consumer electronics landscape has undergone a sea change over the last two to three decades as game-changing devices are, in turn, transforming people’s lives — the way they live, work and communicate.

Computers have grown a few generations during the last two decades, moving from 88 processors to 386, 486 processors to the Pentium Is, PIIs to P4s to laptops and notebooks in the 1990s.

If 1990s was the decade of the desktops, the following one — the first of the new millennium — has been that of the notebooks. However, it seems the current decade is of the tablets. Tablets are gradually overtaking laptops while desktops are being dumped for recycling.

And the old-fashioned telephones that used to be either a luxury or status symbol in households are no longer relevant due to the spread of mobile handsets. Mobile phones have been coming in different shapes, sizes and colours for the past 20 years.

Mobile subscription has crossed the 5.64 billion mark in the second quarter this year as teledensity grows faster than the global population. Soon, the world could have more mobile phones in circulation than its population due to the fact that most urban dwellers subscribe to two lines.

Converging technologies

However, during the last two decades, scientists have also been trying to converge three different technologies — mobile telephony, computing and television — to offer them in the same gadget. Tablets and PDAs are the end results. Going forward, consumers will be looking forward to have all of those plus the usuals — camera, video, audio recording, radio, music — iPods or MP3s or MP4s — all in a single gadget.

That is when consumer electronics will merge with ICT and consumers will enjoy the privilege of having everything in one gadget. This is a fundamental shift from the era of the two-in-ones and the three-in-ones that used to dominate the middle-class households in the 1970s and 1980s.

Back then, Dubai was a sourcing hub for these gadgets that used to sell like hot cakes.

Despite a sea change in the consumer electronics landscape, one fact remains constant: Dubai continues to remain a trading hub for consumer electronics and IT products. The visible changes are in the numbers, quality of service and the evolving gadgets.

Electronics sales are expected to grow from $3.14 billion (Dh11.53 billion) last year to $3.8 billion this year, and eventually reach $3.97 billion in 2015, according to a latest report by Dubai Chamber.

Strong domestic demand

“Not only is domestic demand strong but Dubai’s strategic location between the East and West puts it in an ideal position to capitalise on future growth in the GCC, Eastern European, Indian sub-continent and African markets,” says Hamad Bu Amim, director general of the Dubai Chamber.

Dubai’s traders thrive on the city’s logistics and connectivity — it helps them ship in latest products and sell them fast before others. This gives them an extra margin.

“Electronics and IT trade will continue to thrive in Dubai simply due to the opportunities around this market and how Dubai’s logistics and connectivity help its trading community,” Faisal Vahedna, managing director of Vahedna Trading LLC, an electronics wholesaler and retailer, told Gulf News. “The key to Dubai remaining at the centre of this trade is the efficiency in its ports, customs and logistics facilities. We are successful in feeding the consumers due to these factors.”