The sweets and confectionery business in Dubai has been delivering great savoury experiences to residents and visitors alike with a large number of consumers purchasing top quality sweets and delicacies for their loved ones in the final days of the Holy Month of Ramadan, and continuing to do so during the ‘Eid in Dubai – Eid Al Fitr’ celebrations.
The Middle East has been known for the production of quality dates and other innovative sweet products, and old and new entrepreneurs in the sweets and confectionery industries are eagerly crafting unique tastes for consumers during this busy period of the year for the sweets trade.
The Media Centre of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), and organisers of ‘Eid in Dubai- Eid Al Fitr’ celebrations, spoke to leading sweet manufacturers in Dubai to get a sense of how Eid impacts their business and the significance of the sweets industry to the economy of the country.
Al Baba Sweets, known for its delicious Lebanese sweets and delicacies first opened in 1950 in Lebanon, while the first shop in Dubai was opened in 2001. The store’s delicious Baqlawa and Kunfe attract people from all walks of life all through the year but Ramadan and Eid remains the most popular season for the purchase of sweets.
“We are known for using the best quality raw materials in our ingredients. We started with one shop in Dubai and now we have three. No doubt, sales witnesses a big rise during Ramadan and we start preparing a few days before Eid to cater to customers who order large quantities.
“Our normal sales rise by 4 to 5 times above average, while sales go up to 10-12 times above average during Eid,” says Mahmoud Abd Al Fattah, Chief Accountatnt, Al Baba Sweets.
“Initiatives like Eid in Dubai, Ramadan in Dubai, DSS and the rest of the festivals and celebrations that take place during the year in Dubai have helped boost our sales thanks to the growing numbers of tourists who visit Al Baba to buy gifts and enjoy our sweets. Being in the industry, Lebanese sweets are now on demand not only by Arabs but by all nationalities”.
The biggest clients during Eid are UAE nationals as they order in large quantities , as part of the Islamic and Arab culture to present sweets to relatives and friends on the occasion of Eid.
“People love our delicacies and today we have opened three branches in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi,” adds Mahmoud.
Another fascinating discovery – Malatya Pazari, – straight from the heart of Turkey, woos tourists and residents with its mouthwatering delicacies. The Malatya Pazari store in Deira City Centre, which captures Istanbul’s Byzantine architecture, old spice Bazar and its little traditional markets on both shores of the western and eastern Istanbul, has been attracting large number of shoppers. The sweets shop showcases the finest fruit and nuts, Turkish delight, pasha rolls and sweet shawarmas.
“To us, sweets are not just about quality, but also about great flavours. This is why our flagship store in Deira City Centre offers a wide variety of different products and variants that are a true delight to look at and to taste,” says Randa Modad, the store’s Managing Partner.
Apart from Turkish delight, the shop also sells jumbo dates, chocolate dates, Turkish coffee, flavoured tea (pomegranate, apple), fairy floss (halva) as well as chocolate filled with crunchy pistachio brittle.
Randa adds: “We have decided to invest in the most traditional Turkish delight brands so tourists and residents in Dubai from all nationalities can enjoy the very best of Turkey. Sales dropped during the first days of Ramadan, which is normal, but we continue to run special offers all the way until Eid.
“Although we have only opened at City Centre recently, Eid is the peak sales period for us. Additionally, most of the local residents and Arabs place orders for presents as Eid gifts for their loved ones. We expect sales to rise by at least 50%.”
Dubai’s reputation as a rapidly developing global city is prompting more tourists and family and friends to choose Dubai as preferred destination to visit over Europe. The influence of various cultures on the cuisine along with exciting year-round events including the DSF, DSS and Eid in Dubai, make it a very attractive proposition.
Jalel Ghayaza, the President of premier confectionery store Delice says: “From Dubai to Harrods, our delicacies are now showcased as the “best chocolates in the world”. The idea was inspired by the tradition of homemade sweets in Tunisia but with a modern feel, people loved it and today the products are showcased at Harrods in London. We are proud of this milestone achievement and hope for more.”
Delice was established in Dubai as a result of a contemporary vision to present traditional Tunisian sweets and confectionery in a new and elegant manner. The idea was born out of a collective desire to deliver the experience of families gathering together to produce homemade delicacies during the holiday and festive season.
He adds: “Eid in Dubai is a very important time for us, as we record a sales surge that triples in value over the rest of the months of the year, and the same during Ramadan, when sales double over the month. There is a marked increase in orders in the last two weeks of Ramadan in preparation for Eid, especially from neighboring countries – including Qatar and KSA.”
Delice is well-known worldwide for its highly original products. The store uses only the highest grade of cacao, almonds, and other raw materials, such as natural colorants, fresh fruits, and the best packaging material and design to reflect the goodness of its hand-made produce. Delice also offers its products in specially decorated boxes with the possibility of made-to-order options engraved and made of 24 carat gold.
“On the occasion of Eid Al Fitr, we have designed and produced a limited edition box with special engravings to signify the occasion of this Blessed festival. Our boxes are also designed to keep the sweets and confectionery fresh. We also do not leave our products on display for more than 60 days, as we are keen to ensure freshness. This is well within the strict health and safety codes in place by the health authorities.”
Today Delice operates three boutiques in Dubai, one boutique in Bahrain and one in Armenia.
A surge in sales has been witnessed at the popular sweet shops like Bateel too, which combines Arabic know-how and experience with European techniques to present its clientele with a product that is both unique and premium.
Mohammed Abu Baker, Sales Manager at the well-known Bateel commented: “Our sales have doubled in the period leading to Eid Al Fitr, with orders usually surging during the last 10 days of the Holy Month and demand for sweets, chocolates and baked items increasing.
“We are also very keen to offer a distinct selection of dates, chocolates and baked confectionery from the beginning of Ramadan to suit the tastes of our clientele, in addition to packaging them in elegant wrappings to suit all tastes and occasions. All our dates are sourced from our own plantations in the south of Riyadh which produce over 20 different types of dates. The dates are then processed in two of our facilities; one situated in Saudi Arabia and the other in Dubai’s Investment Park.”
Bateel confirmed that prices during the peak Eid al Fitr season will remain stable throughout their boutiques and cafes in the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Indonesia, Russia, India, Jordan, Pakistan, London, Malaysia, Morocco, Azerbaijan and Turkey.