UAE online shoppers cash in on pound plunge

Online shoppers and Eid holiday travellers are trying to cash in on the plunging pound rates that have hit an all-time low following the UK’s referendum to leave the EU.

Shopping and travel websites based in the UK are expected to see heavy traffic from the UAE in the coming days as most are trying to cash in on the low exchange rates that have come down to Dh4.88 from around Dh6 per pound.

“Actually I had done my shopping for Eid but with the pound rates down, I ordered a branded bag last night and got it 15 per cent to 20 per cent cheaper to what I would have got before,” says Hamda Al Abbar, who works with a semi-government firm.

Another avid online shopper, Ayesha Al Blooshi, a marketing professional said European products, especially cosmetics, bags and other branded accessories, come way cheaper online than what they get in malls here.

“There is a huge difference in rates when you buy products from UK-based websites but the charges to get it couriered here are more though.

“What we do normally is, friends get together and order in bulk and then split up the cost of the courier charges, but now with the pound falling I think we need not do that,” says Al Blooshi.

Twenty-two-year-old Budoor Al Obaidli was of the view that she can buy more for the amount she would normally spend. “Online shopping is more convenient but I normally buy in euro. Now the sudden dip in the pound rates will help me prepare better for Eid Al Fitr. Normally, I order clothes, bags and make-up items such as lipsticks. I usually purchase five items with Dh1,000. However, I think, now with the same amount, I can purchase eight to nine items which will be so cool,” said Al Obaidli, adding that many famous brands which she usually purchase are expected to be much cheaper and that’s something that “pleases me”.

With the UAE government declaring around nine days’ leave for the government sector, there is also a sudden rise in enquires and bookings for travel to the UK, it is learnt.

Reem Ali Al Hammadi, a 23-year-old student, reveals that the topic of discussion on their dining table has turned to the UK over the past couple of days.

“Honestly, we didn’t have any plans to travel to the UK this summer but now the entire family is encouraged to do so. It might be a blow for the UK but those who are planning for a holiday like us, it’s great news. Especially for people like me who have a big family. We were also discussing about one of my cousins, who is planning to study in the UK, who will have to pay a little less tuition fees.”

Noushad Aziz, manager at Land of Holidays Travel Agency, is also expecting a high demand for tours to the UK.

“I believe that definitely more people will be going to London over the holidays because of the drop in the pound rate. London has always been a prime destination and this just gives it a boost,” said Aziz, adding, “For Emiratis, there are already a lot of benefits, such as visa waivers, and the quality destination of London, and now with a cheaper exchange rate, it just adds to the positive prospects of London, making it an even more attractive destination.”

However, another leading travel agent, who didn’t want to be named, felt it was too early to predict.

“We will have to wait a few more days to get a clear picture, maybe until Eid to be able to say if the numbers are going to increase to London-England this year,” he said.


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