David LewisVision-X growth reflects rising number of outlets across the UAE and KSA


Dubai, United Arab Emirates:


The growth of the Gulf’s optical market is leaving Europe in the shade, as the number of outlets across the Middle East continues to rise on-the-back of global optical brands prioritising regional expansion as key revenue drivers in the increasingly competitive international industry.

With a three-tier structure present in the MENA region, global market and retail intelligence specialist, GfK – Retail Intelligence Partner of next week’s Vision-X, the Middle East’s largest optical trade show – has revealed the location of larger outlets, specifically in shopping malls and on main roads, are driving surging sales in the Gulf’s optical sector.

These findings are revealed as Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) prepares to host the 15th edition of Vision-X in a significantly expanded exhibition arena.  Taking place from November 25 – 27, Vision-X will host more than 250 brands from 26 countries – a 44 per cent increase on country representation from the 2013 show.

Insights from the GfK Universe Study show that approximately 800 optician outlets have opened across the UAE and KSA in the last five years alone, with sales of sunglasses, frames, spectacle lenses, contact lenses and contact lens care products showing no signs of slowing.  With a GDP growth rate of 4.3 per cent in the KSA and 5.2 per cent in Dubai last year, the GfK study reveals a different picture in Europe, where an overall growth rate of less than 1 per cent limited stability in the optical sector.

With 42 per cent of the UAE’s larger regional outlets found in shopping malls, David Lewis, Head of Digital, for MENA within GfK believes the retail structure of individual countries determines the positioning of outlets.

“While both the UAE and KSA offer strong regional opportunities for the optics industry, the structure within which we make our products and services available to consumers is highly varied,” said Lewis. “UAE malls prove to be key locations due to the high levels of footfall from visitors and account for over 40 per cent of all the opticians outlets in the UAE and 60 per cent within Dubai specifically.

“In comparison, the retail structure of opticians within Saudi Arabia places much more weight on central locations, with 75 per cent of stores found on main roads. Similar comparisons can be made with the Northern Emirates of the UAE, as Sharjah shows 79 per cent of stores are also based on main or secondary roads. These variances in locations require adaptation in approach to ensure potential customers are encouraged to enter the outlet and can be serviced by the product offering.”

With the UAE’s mall-driven retail industry giving optical outlets close proximity to fashion stores, this year’s Vision-X  will reflect the increasingly fashion-driven optical industry with participation from some of the biggest names in fashion, as wells as European Design names including Danish companies Prodesign and Nine Eyewear, Spanish fashion brand Jisco and renowned US fashion line Levi’s.

“The importance of the health and fashion aspects of the optics industry is clearly visible in the product offering within regional opticians. One great example of this is the prevalence of coloured contact lenses, available in 93 per cent of opticians in Saudi Arabia and 95 per cent in the UAE. The significance of this is clear when comparing with the leading five markets in Europe where only 50 per cent of opticians are selling such ‘beauty’ contact lenses,” Lewis added.

Further highlighting the emphasis on fashion in the Middle East’s optical industry, the distribution of sunglasses within the Gulf contines to grow, with 98 per cent of opticians in KSA and 96 per cent of opticians in the UAE selling sunglasses, with an average of 13 fashion brands available in UAE opticians alone.

With a refreshed show concept hinged on new brands and enhanced features this year, the UK’s Hakim Group, a business leader and retail intelligence specialist, will utilise a new ‘Future in Focus’ feature to provide one-on-one sessions detailing how technology is  the driving force for growth across the global optical market.

For the first time in its history, Vision-X will also offer regional opticians and optometrists with fully-accredited education sessions to update their professional skills. Offering the essential continued professional development required by the optical healthcare industry, the Continuing Medical Education (CME) accredited programme is one of the most anticipated features of this year’s Opticare Conference, which this year is sponsored by Essilor.

Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, Exhibitions and Events Management, DWTC, said:  “We’ve refreshed Vision-X 2014 to celebrate this year’s crystal anniversary and the feedback from exhibitors has been universally positive.  The new formatted show will offer a much more expansive and comprehensive platform for the international optical industry to explore and monetise immense revenue-generating opportunities across the MENA region and beyond.”

Running alongside the event is the new Vision-X VP Awards, launched in partnership with VisionPlus Arabia Magazine. The only dedicated celebration of excellence in the Middle East’s optical industry, the awards have attracted more than 120 global entries. With voting closing last week, 15 winners will be announced from the 72 shortlisted applications at an exclusive ceremony on November 25 in Dubai.

Vision-X 2014 returns with support from Headline Sponsor, Vision & Fashion; Nikon & Kefan; Egma, GKB Hi-Tech, Essilor and Medicals international.  Held in DWTC’s Sheikh Saeed Halls from November 25-27, Vision-X Dubai is strictly a trade-only event. The show is open daily from 10am to 6pm on November 25 and 26 and 10am to 5pm on November 27. Registration is available in advance at the event’s new website: