Imagine being transported into a luminescent space, surrounded by ultra-luxurious brands of jewellery and watches, and getting a closer look into the creative brilliance and master craftsmanship that goes into creating a world-class display of these products.
The GCC region is among the most favourable luxury retail markets in the world and a highly attractive market for luxury brand owners across the world. This sector presents thriving businesses in the region, propelled by affluent locals, splurging expatriates, growing brand-conscious youth and a great influx of tourists. Qatar too, with one of the highest disposable incomes per capita, houses some of the biggest buyers of luxury goods across the Middle East. According to a 2014 report from Markaz Research, Qataris spend up to USD 5,000 a month on luxury goods.
And the good news for the region’s jewellery and watch enthusiasts? The Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) is back for its 13th edition hosted at the new DECC, offering over 29,000 sq. m of exhibiting space, an increase of 16 percent over the 2015 edition held at QNCC. Speaking of the venue, General Manager of DJWE organisers Elan Group, Roger Abi Haidar says: “The space will be more luxurious and easier to navigate. DECC is conveniently located in the heart of West Bay, less than 500 m walk from over 3,500 five star hotel rooms and easily accessible by those working in Doha’s business district.”
Alfardan Jewellery President and Alfardan Group of Companies Vice-Chairman, Ali Alfardan adds: “This year we believe the newly rebuilt centre is quite hospitable and offers advanced services. The centre can accommodate a great number of visitors and the location is attractive as it is close to City Center in the heart of the capital. The parking can also accommodate a considerable number of visitors which is an advantage.”
2016 bigger and better
This show features among some of the most exclusive in the world for top level high net worth individuals to buy, learn and watch fine jewellery and unique pieces, watches, gemstones, and diamonds – all represented by more than 500 of the most renowned and exclusive international brands.
The 2016 edition is going to be better with a string of new and exciting things to look forward to. For the first time since its inception, the DJWE will feature jewellery and watches workshops for enthusiasts and designers to learn from experts on creating their own pieces. Additionally, a number of educational seminars will be delivered on jewellery and watches throughout the week, enabling an even finer discernment of quality pieces.
“In addition to the new venue, this year’s exhibition will feature the International Gemological Institute for the first time, the DJWE’s laboratory and education partner. IGI will provide free assessments of stones purchased at the exhibition, so visitors can be certain of the quality,” says Haidar and adds that there will be special routes marked out between exhibitors for pearl collectors and watch aficionados. “This year’s exhibition is simply a must-attend event for sophisticated buyers and collectors of jewellery and watches,” he says.
“Unlike the other leading international jewellery and watch exhibitions, DJWE allows visitors to buy directly from exhibitors.”
Only the best brands
DJWE 2016 promises to display truly extraordinary products with even more rigorous selection standards for exhibitors. The criteria for selection of brands to feature at the event are important to DJWE as they ensure only pieces of the highest quality are included. Haidar reveals to BQ: “Brands are required to demonstrate excellence in design and technique, combining a recognisable design identity in their showcase products with the finest quality of materials and technique. Gemstones are evaluated for size, clarity and quality, and only the world’s most precious metals are accepted for display: platinum, palladium, pure and sterling silver and, it goes without saying, the full range of gold in various carats and shades of soft white, yellow and rose.”
Exhibitors are also required to make a commitment not to present copies of watches or existing jewels on the market, and every item displayed must be accompanied by a certificate of origin. The process of selection of a brand to exhibit runs for roughly six months and they were finalised only by the end of January (2016). “We work very closely with the local and international exhibitors to ensure that the exhibition has a truly first class selection,” Haidar adds.
Expectations are high as several brands prepare for a better, more successful 2016 participation. Mark Emanuel, co-owner of David Webb, an iconic American jewellery brand, tells BQ: “David Webb participated last year and the response was overwhelmingly positive and we’re excited to be back at DJWE for our third year. We are also excited at the potential of the new building and hopefully, grow our audience in the region. We would like to see familiar faces visiting us again as well as new clients who are looking for bold, declarative jewellery made by some of the best artisans in the world.” David Webb continues to be available to their clientele and building on the success they have seen here, according to Emanuel.
Alfardan Jewellery has been participating since the first edition of the exhibition and are pioneers of the show as they privately organised it from 1977 until 2002. Alfardan speaks of their expectations this year: “We are all working very hard to bring the most up-to date products that will surely attract many exhibition visitors. We are also expecting more visitors this year than last year and of course we foresee good volumes of sales.”
He also proudly mentions their presence at the exhibition: “Since the first edition of the Doha Watches and Jewellery exhibition, Alfardan Jewellery has always had and will still have this year the largest space in the entire exhibition area. Our booth will look very elegant, rich and welcoming. Our aim is to bring the best high-end brands of the watches and jewellery industry to participate in the show under our umbrella.
“We highly believe that this year our presence will be distinguished and we are expecting to receive many compliments on our stand design and organisation.”
Elan Group as well affirms their high expectations. “We believe we are firmly on course for the most well-attended exhibition since the exhibition started 13 years ago,” says Haidar and further reveals: “As it stands, we’re edging towards 50 exhibitors – also a record – and will boast over 500 brands.”
The DJWE is targeted at visitors who have a sophisticated appreciation of jewellery and watches. “The majority of our visitors are based in Qatar, but with each year we see growing numbers from the neighbouring Gulf countries: KSA, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman. Qatar is also very well connected internationally by Qatar Airways, and we will welcome guests from Europe, Asia and the Americas too,” Haidar comments.
Luxury retail landscape
The GCC has become a fertile ground for several renowned luxury brands. The region’s consumers with their large disposable incomes have increasingly sophisticated tastes and an ever growing demand for better quality and newer trends. This has opened up exciting possibilities for key players, however, the sector is not without its challenges. The nature of the retail industry in this region challenges a brand to create pieces that are truly unique, according to Emanuel. “If you consider how important this region is for most luxury brands, one has to strive for excellence,” he says. “The customer is well-travelled with discerning tastes. These are individuals who have seen the world and know what they want.”
Alfardan believes challenges can be avoided if we work hard enough to improve the jewellery industry in the region and particularly in Qatar. He says: “We are always optimistic and we think that in this industry hard work is always rewarded. Our customers are perpetually looking for new items and we are confident that DJWE will allow them to buy the latest trends and spend money on what they like.”
“Unlike most other sectors, luxury is not impacted heavily by economic downturns,” says Haidar and adds: “The typical buyer at DJWE is motivated by a love of art and culture, and is likely to keep his or her acquisitions for life. In this sense, we are focused more on the opportunities, such as increasing visitors from Asia and Europe.”
DJWE is definitely an event that plays an important part in shaping Qatar’s luxury retail landscape. Elan Group tells BQ the event generates a significant volume of sales in the jewellery and watches sectors in Qatar. “People travel from the GCC and beyond, so we can expect a boom in sales during the period of the exhibition,” Haidar concludes.