Determination & inspiration are key to UAE retail market’s resiliency

April 18, 2021
By: Mohammad A. Baker, Deputy Chairman and CEO, Gulf Marketing Group (GMG)

In the relatively short history of our nation, the UAE has proved its mettle time and again. The story of the UAE is really that of ambition, resilience, and success. The resounding message from its leadership today is that even COVID-19 will not stand in the way of future progress. During the current global pandemic, the UAE not only managed to safely close and reopen its borders, but implement the world's second-fastest vaccination drive internationally1.

Moreover, on February 10, 2021, the UAE proved yet again that, with determination and inspiration, anything is possible. The UAE became only the fifth country in history to reach Mars – and a first for the Arab world. The nation did this despite its relatively small size and in the face of a global pandemic.

It is a proud moment for those in the UAE and the region. It is also an opportunity for all of us to reflect on our future trajectory. In particular, the Emirates Mars Mission should remind those of us in the UAE business community that we must stay focused on the opportunities ahead, and not just today’s challenges. Anything is possible and all challenges can be overcome.

In the retail sector, for example, COVID-19 initially sent shock waves across the region and globally. Landlords and retailers alike were impacted by fluctuations in consumer footfall. Changes in labor requirements, rescheduled brand campaigns, and phased reopenings of stores took a great deal of agility and industry-wide coordination. New policies may still continue to be rolled out that will impact local retail, particularly brick and mortar offerings, as authorities rightly prioritize public health.

Nonetheless, UAE retailers are now better prepared to navigate the roadblocks posed by COVID-19. More information, resources, and best practices are now in place to minimize disruptions caused by the pandemic. Many retailers have been able to recalibrate their offerings to be more omnichannel, using digital platforms to help retain and even grow their customer base. New partnerships, councils, and funds have been created to support those most impacted by the pandemic. We are also continuing to benefit from the UAE government’s strong investments in public education regarding COVID-19 and wide-scale testing.

As retailers, we can take a page from the Emirates Mars Mission team's playbook. You don’t have to be a large company—or country—to make a big impact. By being determined, patient, and true to one’s values, incredible breakthroughs can be achieved. Of course we must constantly evolve and adapt, but always with a long-term inspiration in mind.

If we do that, not even a pandemic can restrain our future success.