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The “bold and the beautiful” of the UAE retail environment

Nnamdi O. Madichie (Department of Management, Marketing and Public Administration, College of Business Administration, University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)
Jim Blythe (Plymouth Business School, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK Westminster Business School, London, UK)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 20 September 2011




This paper aims to profile the potential impact of shopping malls in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – a country renowned for its hedonic consumption.


The approach is based on a combination of personal observation and review of media reports on the duality (bricks‐and‐mortar versus clicks) of investments in UAE retail space.


Initial observations of developments in the UAE shopping landscape provide compelling evidence to suggest that online shopping (etailing) is unlikely to match the hedonic consumption patterns such as major bricks‐and‐mortar investments in shopping malls (the Dubai Mall is not only equipped with an aquarium, a cinema, and a zoo, but also has an on‐site hotel).

Practical implications

The findings highlight two key challenges that would require further investigation. First amongst these is how to transform the identified entertainment aspects epitomised by the hedonic attributes of UAE shopping malls into generating “real profits” for retailers. Second is to establish how to reconcile the conflicting etailing investments in the country with the fast paced bricks‐and‐mortar developments – both running into millions of dollars.


This paper is one of the very few on the retail sector in the UAE and perhaps the first that examines this sector in the light of hedonism versus utilitarianism.



Madichie, N.O. and Blythe, J. (2011), "The “bold and the beautiful” of the UAE retail environment", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 29 No. 6, pp. 593-601.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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