Middle East Retail Forum 2022 to focus on US$308 billion worth of opportunities in the GCC Retail Sector

Middle East Retail Forum 2022 to focus on US$308 billion worth of opportunities in the GCC Retail Sector

 More than 300 retail industry experts from 120+ companies including 80 speakers will discuss the roadmap for the future of retail experiences – at the 11th Middle East Retail Forum that takes place on November 15, 2022 at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai, UAE 

Date: Dubai, UAE; November 11, 2022 

More than 300 retail industry experts will convene at the 11th Middle East Retail Forum which takes place at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel on November 15, 2022 to tell their story, discuss the opportunities and assess their learnings and challenges in the Middle East’s vibrant retail sector. An industry that saw cash payments declining to 20 percent last year, down from 70 percent in 2017, according to a recent report by Statista.com. 

The size of the GCC retail sector is expected to rise to US$308.0 billion in 2023 at CAGR 4.0 percent from US$253.2 billion in 2018. Retail sales are likely to rebound and rise by 2023, led by the projected increase in population and international tourist arrivals. 

The e-retail industry in the region has been expanding rapidly over the past couple of years. The value of e-commerce transactions was forecasted to reach around US$27 billion by 2022 in the UAE. The UAE ranks first in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in the UNCTAD E-commerce Index, followed by Saudi Arabia.  

As per CNNB Solutions, MENA e-commerce sales will grow to $50 billion in 2022. Ninety-one percent of customers in MENA have become digital converts and will continue to buy online, with 73% shopping more online since the pandemic. MENA shoppers are looking for safe and secure online payments – over 60% of people believe secure checkout is fundamental for a good online shopping experience.

Payment through credit card jumped from 16 percent in 2017 to 38 percent in 2021. The new trend emerging in the retail landscape is: Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) – a new buying power. 

Characteristic2017201920202021
Cash70%67%27%20%
Credit Card16%17%33%38%
E-wallet, Digital/Mobile Wallet6%8%7%13%
Prepaid Card6%6%8%7%
Debit Card2%2%15%13%
Charge Card*1%1%4%
POS Financing*7%
Buy Now, Pay Later1%
Retailer/Bank Financing7%

Source: Statista.com

The Middle East Retail Forum (MRF) has become the most sought-after annual congregation for the top retailers in the Middle East who set the trends in the industry. A must-attend event for industry leaders, CEOs and other C-level professionals, it gives new direction to retailers on changes, challenges and opportunities. The MRF conference concludes with the annual Images RetailME Awards that recognizes the best performing retailers in different categories. 

“The overall environment in the retail sector is changing. If anything, tech-driven innovation is catalysing massive growth and many firsts – the first phygital store in the region, launch of the first ‘metaverse-as-a-service’ business and much more. At the same time people and purpose are strong focus areas for businesses. While new jobs are being created and some roles becoming redundant, retailers are investing in their people and purpose. Sustainability and DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) are key focus areas and have become important than ever before. Brands are at a new trajectory of growth and it will be incredible to see these stories unfold at MRF this year,” said Justina EitzingerChief Operating Officer of Images Group Middle East, organiser of the Middle East Retail Forum and Images RetailME Awards. 

“MRF and the RetailME Awards have become the industry benchmark convention and annual awards that everyone in the retail sector relate to and take pride in participating. It has become a matter of pride not only for the retailers, but it firmly has re-positioned the region in the global retail map. 

“This year, I am happy to announce that we have brought back our retail start-up section where start-ups will pitch their ideas to a panel of industry experts serving as jury – that might see UAE’s home-growth start-ups get partner support and mentorship from the Forum.” 

The Forum will also focus on changing consumer behaviour and how retailers can and must keep pace, or perhaps stay a step ahead. For instance, in the Middle East, over 50 percent of consumers prefer spending money on experiences rather than things, compared to 44 percent globally, according to Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyle Survey, 2021. Moreover, 65 percent of consumers seek curated experiences, much higher than 58 percent of consumers globally. 

At the same time, they want to engage more on a personal level, whether through social media, or talking directly with customer service assistants. For example, 65 percent of those in the Middle East prefer speaking to a human than a chat bot, compared to 58 percent globally. Therefore, as retailers in the region devise strategies, digital technology must combine with customer engagement, an engagement that still believes in a “real” and “human” experience. 

In the Middle East, physical retailing remains stronger compared to other regions, although e-commerce is making strides, according to a report by Euromonitor. In 2020, the penetration rate of e-commerce in the region rose to 8 percent from 4 percent in the pre-pandemic period. Thus, while there has been a strong boost in e-commerce, store-based sales dominate the region’s retail landscape. Local consumers are expected to spend an average of over US$2,400 via physical stores in 2025, up from nearly US$2,000 in 2020, compared to only US$295 online the same year. 

More than 300 retail industry experts from 120 participating companies including 80 speakers will discuss these challenges and opportunities brought out by the new retail revolution driven by digitization across the industry – at MRF. 

Held under the theme, Unfolding Retail Stories, the Forum will offer a glimpse of the transformation of the UAE’s retail landscape from a quaint trading centre to a global retail hub. Leading panelists will discuss the roadmap for the future of retail, exploring trends in e-commerce, malls and shopping centres, and data and emerging technologies.   

The CEO’s Conclave will debate on the topic: The Remake: Biggest Transformation Journeys that will see Khurshid Vakil, Co-founder, Marina Retail; Ahmed Ragab, Group CEO of Baraka Retail Group; Mark Tesseyman, CEO of LIWA Trading Enterprises; Nadine Benchaffai, CEO, Abfab Foods; Leena Khalil, Co-founder and CCO of Mumzworld; Tapan Vaidya, CEO of PJP Investments Group; Mohammad Iqbal Alawi, Board Member & CEO of Red Sea Markets Company; Neeraj Teckchandani, Group CEO, Apparel Group; Mohsen Ahmad, CEO – Logistics District, Dubai South; Krishna Dhanak, MD, Alpen Capital join Moderator Mark Thomson, Director Retail and Hospitality at Zebra Technologies and Co-Moderator Rupkatha Bhowmick, Editor of Images RetailME. 

Panellists Naim Maadad, Chief Executive and Founder of Gates Hospitality will join Mouna Abbassy, Founder and CEO, IZIL Beauty; James Scott, CEO of Grandiose Supermarket; Ashish Panjabi, COO of Jacky’s Retail; Yousef Almawy, VP – Retail at Adyen; Igor Demishev, Co-founder and CTO of Jiffy Software; Alpay Akdemir, Principal – Retail and Commerce EEMEA at Mastercard, at the panel titled: The ‘Alchemy of Growth’ for RETAIL in the MIDDLE EAST, Moderated by Mohammad Majid, Partner – Digital and innovation, KPMG.

John Strickland, Head of Retail Solutions, India, Middle East and Emerging Markets at Board, will examine Data Explosion – How can retailers plan smarter, drive outcomes and lead transformation? At a time when the world’s data is doubling every two years. By 2025, it is expected to double every 15 hours. This wealth of information has the potential to change the future of business, yet 70 percent of it sits stored and unused by enterprises worldwide.

On top of this, seemingly never-ending market disruptions have made it challenging for retailers to make smart decisions and plan for an uncertain tomorrow. This is compounded by slow, error-prone, opaque planning processes and systems that lack the ability to provide crucial insights for decision-making. Planning is being put to the test.

Images RetailME Awards

Middle East’s best retailers will also be announced at a gala ceremony at the annual Images RetailME Awards, held alongside Middle East Retail Forum (MRF). It will recognize the achievements of retailers from the region who have had the courage to think out-of-the-box to bring innovative retail concepts and experiences equipped with emerging technologies and data that the world has access to today.


Images RetailME Awards aims to serve as a benchmark in the Middle Eastern retail industry by honouring best practices and efforts of the retail fraternity, which serves as a massive contributor to the overall economy. The categories have been carefully designed to ensure equal opportunities to all verticals across the board.

Middle East Retail Forum is supported by Mastercard, Zebra Technologies, Adyen, Altavant, Kalandoor, Line Investments, Al Bayader, BinDawood Group, Rasasi, ENOC, XENO, Red Sea Mall, Board International, EZ Dubai, Tap and Jiffy among others.

Ends 

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