<b>United Arabic Emirates 2009:</b> China Dominates Gulf Market
Dubai’s Jebel Ali port, ranked seventh globally for the volume of container traffic, plays a major role for the bike markets of the Persian Gulf States. Here all the products arrive that are destined for the neighbouring countries
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Dubai’s Jebel Ali port, ranked seventh globally for the volume of container traffic, plays a major role for the bike markets of the Persian Gulf States. Here all the products arrive that are destined for the neighbouring countries which are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). These countries are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai’s busy Jebel Ali Port is the epicenter of all exports. Dubai based bicycle traders place orders at Chinese as well as Indian companies. They transit the incoming containers to the various other Gulf states.
One of these traders is Aliasgar Raja of Hussain Ismaeil Trading. This company is regarded as the biggest agent in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) market importing and exporting complete bikes as well as Parts & Accessories. Raja says: “Dubai is the gateway for the whole Gulf region as well as some African countries. About 300 containers are docked at the Jebel Ali Port every month for the local market or they are in transit for GCC countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The United Arab Emirates has only a small bicycle market which is dominated by brand names from China and India. It has about 6 main agents importing bicycles direct from the two countries.
Currently Chinese bicycle and component makers are controlling the biggest part of the UAE as well as the other Gulf States markets. They have taken over the leading role from the renowned names of the Indian bicycle industry.
“About 90% of the local UAE market as well the markets for the neighbouring countries are currently controlled by the Chinese makers and brands,” says Raja during a meeting in the hub of the UAE bike market which is located behind the Casablanca hotel in the mid of Dubai.
On the local market, he says: “Due to harsh weather conditions, people do not prefer to ride a bike here. So, the local market is very small. Sales stands at about 15,000 to 16,000 bicycles per month. MTBs and BMX bikes hold the majority share of the sales.”
Raja is agent for Hero Cycles from India. His company also imports among others Raleigh, Phillips, Rocky, Classic and Kinetic. Next to the GCC countries and Africa, Hussain Ismaeil Trading also supplies bikes and P&A to Iran. “Actually Iran is among the biggest markets being catered by the Dubai based bicycle traders,” he added.
The Indian companies have not lost all the brand awareness in the UAE market. Atlas is among the most sought after brands. Also the tyre companies from India are regaining market share from Chinese competitors; not only in the small UAE markets, but also on the other Gulf State markets.
“Chinese tyre/tube quality dropped in the recent past with demand for Indian tyre brands bouncing back. Ralson is currently the most preferred brand but always in short supply,” claimed Hiran Patel of Sawan Cycle, an Indian dealer in the UAE who also mentions that Indian brands have lost market share due to fluctuating prices of their products.
While the Indian manufacturers prefer to supply bikes under their own brand name; the Chinese makers do a lot of OEM business for local suppliers. “Chinese companies supply under private labels like Classic or Speedmax,” comments Mohammed Ali, Manager in the UAE exclusive Atlas Cycle dealership – Sameer Hassan Bicycle Trading. This trading company sources, next to complete bikes, tyres & tubes from Ralson and Sri Lankan brand DSI and supplies mainly Oman and Iran as well as some African countries.