Last Updated: Mon Jul 02, 2012 14:48 pm (KSA) 11:48 am (GMT)

Ramadan gold rush: Wealthy Middle Eastern visitors flock to London

Middle Eastern high-rollers have for many years been vacationing in London, but this year has seen their numbers reach a new high. (File photo)
Middle Eastern high-rollers have for many years been vacationing in London, but this year has seen their numbers reach a new high. (File photo)

The weeks leading up to the Muslim month of Ramadan has seen a large group of the uber rich flock to London from across the Middle East.

They come to the British capital to escape the soaring temperatures back home, to relax and to shop but they also come to show off their wealth, wrote the Daily Mail on Friday.

Forget about summer sales, these visitors want nothing but the best, and they are ready to pay for it.

According to the British newspaper, jewelers on the posh Bond Street as well as designer shops in the West End and several of the city’s luxury hotels have instructed their Arabic-speaking staff to roll out the red carpet for the Middle Eastern visitor.

Reportedly some five-star hotels are seeing a whopping 80 percent occupancy from Middle East visitors.

Meanwhile luxury designer stores in the West End see the average Saudi shopper spend around £1,900 ($2,964) dwarfing the £120 ($187)spent by a British shopper or the £550 ($858)by an American one.

Middle Eastern high-rollers have for many years been vacationing in London, but this year has seen their numbers reach a new high.

The number of visitors from Saudi Arabia climbs by 22 percent each year, while the number of Emirati visitors has risen to nearly 120,000, up by almost 10 percent.

With France enforcing a ban on the face veil (niqaab) many of those who traditionally would have vacationed in the city of lights are now instead traveling to London.

While the prices of homes has dropped in other parts of Britain as a direct result of the financial recession, Middle Eastern buyers have driven prices up in London, particularly purchasing homes with price tags upwards £5 million ($7.8 million).

“The Ramadan Rush is a total phenomenon” Jace Tyrrell of the New West End Company, the management company for retailers in Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street told the Daily Mail.

“It’s worth millions to us, last year there was £120 million ($187 million) spent in the pre-Ramadan rush by Middle Eastern visitors, but it grows every single year, We expect it to be up 10 percent this year.”

According to the Daily Mail, the signs of the influx of Arab visitors are visible all over Central London including in the vacancy adverts.

Arabic speaking staffs are being hand-picked by luxury brands to make sure the customers every need is accommodated to in their native language.

“Arabic-speaking, experienced talented makeup artists and skincare specialists needed for exciting positions in West End premier department store,” one job ad reads.

These Middle Eastern visitors are not looking to buy any old designer goods and are not searching for bargains. As a result, the annual summer sales in many of the high-end London stores have been brought forward to May and end early so merchandise can be replaced with tailored and specially designed collections that will cater to the taste of the incoming customers.

But it is not only shops that benefit from the surge of Middle Eastern money.

Companies providing chauffeurs, private chefs, bodyguards are also reporting a growth in business. As well as concierge companies who cater to the wealthy.


(Written by Sara Ghasemilee)

Comments »

Post Your Comment »

Social Media »