Allegrini 2018

Not only USA, Uk, China and Germany: the Arab Emirates on the map of Italian wine

Expo in Dubai, many Italian restaurants, international tourism: if the Gulf becomes a real destination for Italian wine exports
Salvia Omidvarnia, working on the export of Italian wine in the Arab Emirates

After a year and a half of pandemic, with the wine trade holding its own in spite of the cancellation of traditional promotion and communication activities, Italian wine not only wants to return to the markets where it is a leader, such as the USA, Great Britain and Germany, but also has a great desire to discover others, more peripheral but no less promising or interesting. Such as the Arab Emirates, difficult to imagine as a destination for wine exports, but the Emirate, an Islamic country, is now a tourist destination for millions of people every year from every corner of the world, as well as a job opportunity for tens of thousands of professionals who have chosen Dubai - which has become a city of luxury and a catalyst for investments and technological research, as well as the location of the next Expo - as once London or New York were chosen.
A market that Salvia Omidvarnia, general manager of Biizel, “a trading company that deals with the import/export of food products made in Italy, mainly to Arab countries, through our sister company, which is based in Dubai”, knows well, as she tells WineNews. “From the Milan office, on the other hand, we deal with opening up the booming Arab Emirates market to small Italian producers”. Speaking of wine, “the Arab Emirates are certainly not the first country that comes to mind in a commercial logic, and rightly so, given that we are talking about an Islamic country”, Salvia Omidvarnia points out. “But it is also a country where mass tourism is growing, and then Dubai will host the Expo (from October 2021 to March 2022, ed.) for which 30% more arrivals are expected in the months of the exposition. The consumption of wine, in Dubai, is linked to the many foreigners who work there, and to the millions of tourists who visit it every year from all over the world, and it is mainly sold in the many hotels, which are also constantly growing, and in international restaurants, where there is also room for Italian wine”.
In short, a market and a country which, as opposed to any other that can be thought, have nothing to do with the typical wine consumer. “And it is just this, the target, an absolutely heterogeneous clientele, that makes the Arab Emirates interesting. So many nationalities - continues the general manager of Biizel - with respect to which it is necessary to have a very open mind, and to think about the needs of everyone, obviously remembering that we are in a very hot country, even in winter, when temperatures are however high. Preferences, when talking about wine, are naturally towards white wines, as well as rose wines and Prosecco, especially in the last years, because it is perfect for toasts, for parties and not only. Even red wine has its important space, with 30% of total wine consumption. It is an international market, open and joyful”.
And still all to be discovered, as well as conquered, especially for Italian producers. “There is room for everyone - says Salvia Omidvarnia - but the success of a company or wine on the market of the Arab Emirates depends a lot on two factors: quality and marketing. I am thinking, for example, of a region such as Trentino, which offers great white wines, whereas as far as red wines are concerned, we are working a lot with Amarone della Valpolicella, but we would like, for the Arab markets, to work with Etna as well. Every territory can think of having opportunities, the important thing is to be there and know that in Dubai there are many Italian restaurants, representing Italian culture and food, to which Italian wine should obviously be added. One of the places that works hardest on this front - adds the general manager of Biizel - is Bice, which has a very interesting position and location, and their offer goes beyond food and wine and also embraces Italian culture, hosting artists and singers, and also doing a lot for wine, which obviously goes hand in hand with cuisine and culture”.
Certainly, it is not a market that is too stratified or for everyone, because of its nature, even though the Arab Emirates are trying to open up to tourism other than luxury. “When one thinks of Dubai immediately a prestige market comes to mind, and it is indeed so. Obviously not in terms of quantity of wine sold, there is no comparison with countries such as China, Canada, Germany, but the Arab Emirates are however a prestigious market, no matter how limited. Being present here, for an Italian label, brings a lot of visibility. And not only with respect to luxury tourism - concludes Salvia Omidvarnia - because today the Arab Emirates are also a country capable of attracting startups and companies from all over the world, there is still plenty of space to explore and grow, to be wrested, through technology, from the desert, so as to create situations that can attract tourists of all levels, not only luxury”.

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