How would you assess the significance of the Dubai market in your larger portfolio?
AMIT MALANI We have a strong distribution network in the region that operates through the partners we appoint in each market. We have retail and distribution partners in every market, and we want to strengthen that. We want to replicate our model in the UAE, where we have more or less 100% reach in terms of distribution. In the UAE, we are constantly looking at opening more stores. We have a team that meets with mall management companies and looks at where we can have more stores. We are opening more Harman, JBL, and Samsung stores as the opportunities arise. Currently, we have six new stores opening in the next six months across the Emirates. We want to be everywhere. The time is right for our products to be accepted by the markets in all the Emirates.
ESTHER BERROZPE GALINDO The Middle East is second to none when it comes to acceptance of new technologies, and Dubai leads this region when it comes adoption of high-quality products. In fact, the UAE has had one of the highest rates of growth in terms of internet penetration and smart devices in recent years. At the same time, this region is home to one of the youngest populations in the world. Demographics and reaction to innovation are linked. History tells us that markets with young populations tend to produce the best adoption rates for new technologies. At the moment, the Middle East and Africa represents around 10% of our total global revenue. The region is growing at a faster pace than the other regions in our portfolio because the population is younger and product renewal is faster. Doing business in this region, especially Dubai, is so easy compared to other places. We continue to look for opportunities to invest, not only in Dubai and the UAE, but across the whole Middle East, and we continue to look at the best industrial footprint to serve the region. We are also looking to establish partnerships in different countries within the region to better serve our operations.
How do you reflect on the regulatory framework and the ease of doing business in Dubai for international retail companies?
AM Dubai is a dream city with possibly the best infrastructure anywhere can provide. The happiness rating is high for people living in Dubai. Dubai is beautifully positioned from a regional logistics point of view. There is a lot of transparency in business, and we have absolutely no problems here. There is strong logistics support provided, and there are free zone areas available. Harman covers 45 countries from here. We are doing a lot of exporting from Dubai and are able to cater to all these markets because the process is efficient and smooth. Whoever came up with the idea of creating Jebel Ali Free Zone, where we are based, has given Dubai a strong launch pad, and a lot of international companies have settled here.
EBG World over, the regulatory environment is fairly complicated for multinational corporations. This is because the policies and priorities of regulators are different in each market. The EMEA region, specifically, is complex because it consists of many different regulatory frameworks, which vary from one sub-region to the other. In this environment, the challenge for us is to adjust and update the different documentation and specification of the products. In the GCC, the regulatory norms are more harmonized, which makes it easier for global companies such as ours. I am pleased to say that Dubai has been a regional flag bearer for ease of doing business, and the regulatory practices in Dubai are a benchmark for several markets in the region. While we do not forego doing business in countries just because of the barriers of entry, though it is an important consideration in growing our footprint in a certain market. Frequent changes in regulations can slow down the pace of innovation, and we are glad that is not the case in Dubai.