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Shopping malls and omnichannel drive innovative MENA retailing scene

Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to attend RECon Middle East & North Africa 2018, a key event for shopping center industry professionals in the MENA region and it confirmed my impression that the MENA retail scene is humming with activity and innovation. 

Organized by the  Middle East Council of Shopping Centers (MECSC), of which Openbravo is a member, RECon MENA brought together retailers, technology vendors and consulting companies, architects and design companies, entertainment and leisure companies, product and service providers, all under one roof for three days of networking, deal making and exploring new business opportunities.

The attractions of the MENA region are well known to retailers and shopping malls are an essential part of the region’s culture and character. Dubai probably has more malls per square kilometer than any other city in the world!

These malls are showcases where shoppers can browse and buy leading brands, and they also act as entertainment destinations for dining and socializing, making them particularly popular with young people. 

MENA  has one of the fastest-growing populations in the world, and one of the youngest, according to PwC’s Total Retail Survey.

Shoppers in the MENA region have been slower to embrace eCommerce than in some other parts of the world. But its young population is keen to exploit digital technology. Retailers that want to succeed in the region need to develop a good omnichannel strategy that combines the unique strengths of shopping in the physical stores, with the capabilities that digital commerce offers. 

From talking to other visitors at the event, it is clear that shopping malls play a key role in the economic and social life of MENA economies. Retailers are not afraid to invest in technology to ensure their stores continue to draw in visitors and help them fight back against eCommerce challenge. 

I had a hectic but enjoyable two days at RECon MENA and I cannot wait to follow up the contacts made at the event!

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