UAE jewellery demand still dulled by VAT

Goldhub blog

UAE jewellery demand still dulled by VAT

Mukesh Kumar
Senior Analyst, India
World Gold Council


I spent a few days in Dubai last week conducting field research speaking to jewellers and bullion dealers as well attending the Dubai Precious Metals Conference. Compared to my home town of Mumbai it was relatively cool, but it was just as frenetic. Over the course of the 3 days I met with 15 people representing different parts of the gold value chain.

Jewellery store Dubai


The main message is jewellery demand is still suffering because of the recent change in tax. As a reminder, the 1st January 2018 marked a significant change for consumers in the UAE: for the first time they would have to pay VAT. The 5% consumption tax was well flagged by the government. And the response in gold jewellery demand was entirely unsurprising: it perked up in Q4 2017 ahead of the tax change, before slumping once it came into effect. Demand for gold jewellery was just 36 in 2018 – 25% down on the previous year. 

The decline was wasn’t purely VAT-driven. Contacts I met highlighted how the struggling economy has led to job cuts, particularly among industries dominated by expats, which in turn, has put pressure on the real estate sector. Gold jewellery demand has been a casualty of the negative wealth effect. 

Jewellery store Dubai


But there are glimmers of light and the jewellers I spoke to were optimistic about the coming months. Three important themes emerged. 

•    VAT has boosted transparency across the UAE gold trade. Similar to the impact of GST in India, VAT has ushered in greater transparency across the gold market in UAE. Branded chain stores, able to adapt quickly to the logistical and administrative processes of the new system, have gained market share, aided by their focus on design, variety and competitive pricing.

•    Mandatory hallmarking imminent. The UAE is set to introduce mandatory stamping (hallmarking) for gold jewellery. This will help protect consumers – and the trade – from fraud, boost the credibility of the UAE’s gold jewellery market and aid international trade in these metals.

Jewellery store Dubai


Q1 demand and supply data will be publicly available on 1st May when we publish Gold Demand Trends which you can find Goldhub.



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