There is some confusion about the legal status of working full-time as a direct seller in the United Arab Emirates, with its strict employment laws. Dubai’s Department of Economic Development (DED) views direct selling as a part-time activity, and part-time workers are not protected by the same laws as full-time employees.
Direct selling continued to post steady current value growth during 2018; however, it is expected to continue to account for a marginal share in the overall retail landscape of the country, since the category suffers from stigma due to its misunderstanding as a “pyramid” scheme. However, as the cost of living is expected to increase, along with the implementation of VAT in the country, it is expected that stay-at-home mothers or people seeking a part-time income will engage in direct selling to supplement their income.
Direct selling companies offering organic health and beauty products have good opportunities for growth, given consumers’ increasing focus on health and wellbeing, which is giving rise to demand for products which help with weight loss and skin care. With a multi-market model, these products are attractive, as consumers are achieving their health and wellness goals through group engagement or buddy support.
Oasis Water Co remained the leading player in direct selling in value terms in 2018, being the first company to offer 5-gallon bottled water; benefiting from filling a gap in the market. Water cannot be used directly from the tap in the United Arab Emirates, and all households rely on filtered or bottled water to fulfil their cooking and other consumption needs.
With the growing market for organic and natural beauty products, Forever Living is one of the emerging players in direct selling, with sales driven by natural products and detox programmes. The company has established organised operations in the country, offering training programmes, as well launching mobile apps to aid consumers in regulating their diet, alongside using Forever Living diet products.
With little development of direct selling in the United Arab Emirates, companies face little or no competition within the channel. The success of a brand highly depends on the selling proposition and the consumer segments that translate into sales representatives for direct selling companies.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our Retailing market research database.