Pirated goods plague Gulf trading hub Dubai :: San Diego Union-Tribune
DUBAI – Veiled Arab women mingle with Western tourists in shorts to browse shelves full of Gucci and Christian Dior handbags – sleek goods which look a little too upmarket for such a modest shop.
"Louis Vuitton copies are in the back," the Iranian proprietor tells a customer conspiratorially. "Their local agent is active and we have had raids." The shop also sells copies of designer watches.
One veteran trader said Dubai's streamlined import procedures, in a region known for its bureaucracy, attracted the pirates.
"The UAE is advanced in the way goods are brought in and out of the country and that is why these criminals try and use it," Mohammed al-Marri, Dubai Customs director of operations, told the daily Emirates Today. "But our customs security is as strict as anywhere in the world and we are stopping them."
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A Western trade expert said Dubai's successes in fighting smugglers were concealed by a surge in exports.
"The portion of counterfeit goods in Dubai's re-exports is probably falling, but the problem remains as volumes are rising fast," he said, adding that Dubai's ports ranked 10th in the world and were growing at the third fastest global rate. Dubai's imports grew 37 percent in 2004 to nearly $49 billion while re-exports surged 51 percent to $15.5 billion.
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At 34 percent, the UAE's software piracy rate is the lowest in the Middle East and North Africa, where losses due to piracy amounted to $1.2 billion in 2004, according to industry watchdog Business Software Alliance.
The low piracy rate has helped Dubai gain credibility and encouraged international information technology companies to invest in the emirate, which is trying to diversify its economy.