Eleventh Middle East Retail Forum 2022 will take place on November 15 in Dubai

Retail experts will gather at the 11th Middle East Retail Forum to discuss the roadmap for the future of retail experiences on November 15 at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai.

More than 300 retail industry experts from over 20 companies including 80 speakers will attend the event.

The Middle East Retail Forum has become the most sought-after annual congregation for the top retail trendsetters in the region to discuss various challenges posed by the transformation of the UAE’s retail landscape. The forum is a vital occasion for industry leaders, CEOs and other C-level professionals.

COO of Images Group Middle East and the organiser of the Middle East Retail Forum and Images RetailME Awards, Justina Eitzinger, said: “The overall environment in the retail sector is changing. If anything, tech-driven innovation is catalysing massive growth and many firsts – the first phygital store in the region, the launch of the first ‘metaverse-as-a-service’ business and much more.

“At the same time, people and purpose are strong focus areas for businesses. While new jobs are being created and some roles becoming redundant, retailers are investing in their people and purpose. Sustainability and DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) are key focus areas and have become more important than ever before. Brands are on a new trajectory of growth and it will be incredible to see these stories unfold at MRF this year.

“MRF and the RetailME Awards have become the industry benchmark convention and annual awards that everyone in the retail sector relates to and take pride in participating. It has become a matter of pride not only for the retailers, but it firmly re-positioned the region in the global retail map.

“This year, I am happy to announce that we have brought back our retail start-up section where start-ups will pitch their ideas to a panel of industry experts serving as jury – that might see UAE’s home-growth start-ups get partner support and mentorship from the Forum.”

First and foremost, the forum will shed light on shifting consumer behaviour and show how retailers can keep pace with e-commerce, developing by leaps and bounds in the GCC region.

The attendees will factor in multiple nuances that indicate Middle East consumers’ intricate relationship with cutting-edge technology. For example, 65 per cent of those in the Middle East prefer speaking to a human instead of a chatbot, compared to 58 per cent globally. Therefore, it would be imperative for retailers in the region to address these concerns by alternating between ‘real and human’ and ‘artificial’ experiences not to intimidate traditional consumers and reflecting on whether phasing out physical stores bodes well for their reputation.

In the Middle East, physical retailers fairs significantly better than their counterparts from other regions. However, e-commerce is growing exponentially, according to a report by Euromonitor. Two years ago, the penetration rate of e-commerce in the region rose to 8 per cent from 4 per cent in the pre-lockdown period. Nevertheless, while the region witnessed an uptick in e-commerce, store-based sales remain at the forefront of the region’s retail landscape. Local consumers are expected to spend an average of more than $2,400 via physical stores in 2025- which is up from nearly $2,000 two years ago.