Lavish new malls attract flocks of people
Malls also attract window shoppers, curious about newly imported items and latest fashions
New shopping malls emerging across the Kurdish capital of Erbil allure many local and foreign people. At the same time, latest fashions and new global products attract many people to the simple delights of window shopping.
Dara Azad, a 28-year old local Kurdish businessman, comes with his family to make purchases at Majidi Mall, one of the luxury shopping malls situated in Erbil. He wants to buy some new brand of clothes and a sophisticated watch from Swiss Time, “I think I should buy a distinctive and elegant watch.”
Zaid Amin, 30, has been working as a watch retailer since his childhood. Wealth is on the rise and the standard of living is improving in Kurdistan.
"We have very expensive watches. For example, Rolex is a renowned brand name and people will pay $10,000 for a watch. It is a deluxe watch," Amin told The Kurdish Globe.
Amin said Nasdak Center is Swiss Time's licensed agent in Erbil and officially authorized to sell five well-known brands - Tissot, Certina, Cerroti, Rado and Longines.
What excites people the most is the fact that renowned brands have international warranty, and people can repair any defective items and get free post-sale services anywhere in the world, with the presentation of a valid warranty.
"Customers can go to our official agencies, anywhere in the world, to have their watches repaired during the warranty period," said Amin.
"We have some watches studded with diamonds with a case made of gold. The upper middle class and the elite, as well as watch collectors, buy these watches," said Amin.
Some people, especially younger men, visit Family Mall to stroll around and spend some time with their friends. They can- not afford these expensive items. "I see many young men looking at the watches in the showcase units but they do not have enough money to buy a watch," said Amin. He says his least expensive watch costs $150, which older men seem to prefer. His most expensive watch costs more than $50,000. "We also have some watches that work 300 meters under water," said Amin.
The center also offers discounts for its regular customers of 10 to to 15 percent of each purchase.
Nasdak Center, with a license to operate the Swiss Time franchise in Erbil, has offciailly opened its fifth store in Tablo Mall.
There are several perfume stores in Family Mall in Erbil. "Wearing perfume gives pleasure, not only because it smells nice, but also because perfume creates an aura around the wearer and shows the confidence and personality of the person who wears it," said Jamila Rasoul, 24.
Farzand Shakir, a perfume retailer, says his store sells perfume brands from around the world. "We bring all the scents directly from Austria, but we don't have an official license for any of them," said Shakir. The most expensive fragrance costs $180, Creed 1760, while the least expensive one costs $11.
The autonomous Kurdistan Region, spared the brutual violence and attack that have gripped the rest of Iraq since the US invasion of 2003, is witnessing an unprecedented growth in all aspects of its economy, including its retail sector. International investments have reached more than $16 billion (Dh58 billion), according to the Kurdistan Investment Board (KIB) reports.
Triska Mahmood, 28, says the glamorous perfume bottles catch the eye and reels you into buying a perfume without really knowing if the scent is right. "You need to try it and see if it works for you," she advises. "But the prices are high. An employee earning $500 cannot buy a perfume that costs $180."
Erbil has been a draw among Iraqis and tourists alike. In fact, besides its own people, with a population of nearly two million, and Arab people from other parts of Iraq, Iranians, Turks and people from across the world now come to the Kurdistan Region. According to some Iranians who had been in Dubai a few months ago, Erbil’s shopping malls are surely competing with those in Dubai.
Construction work on the Majidi Mall started at the beginning of 2007 and cost more than US$60 million. Family Mall presents a new type of shopping for Erbil. It is a large shopping complex on Erbil's 100M road, part of the Family Fun Park complex, which is well known among people. You can choose from around 350 international brands at the mall.
There are similar mall projects in Erbil like Mega Mall akin to that of UAE’s Sharjah, Tablo Mall nearby Francois Hariri Stadium and several more malls under construction. The Nishtiman (Kurdish for "National") Mall in downtown Erbil will be the largest shopping mall in the world with more than 8,000 shops when construction ends on all of its phases, says a source from its management.