Luxury’s new address

Muscat, April 14 –

Every luxury must be paid for, and everything is a luxury, starting with being in this world. Italian poet Cesare Pavese made this luxurious observation some six decades ago. And, as time goes by, we can’t but marvel at his prescience. Quality air, water and environment are all becoming luxury in today’s fast deteriorating world. Can we add a good mind too?
For those of us who are intellectually and philosophically challenged to appreciate the ultimate luxury brand called life, there are quite a number of upmarket brands that remind us on and off about life’s possibilities in the realm of luxury.
Luxury brands are all about class, elegance and style. Using a luxury brand is a direct statement of one’s social status. It’s a very subtle declaration that one is not — and doesn’t intend to be — just one among the multitudes. You sense whacky arrogance? The fact is brands increasingly define our lives, and through our addiction and allegiance to brands, each of us becomes a brand as well. So much for the power of brands!
While considering the luxury brands in Oman, the first image that pops up is that of Amouage. As an Omani premium luxury brand, it’s well appreciated the world over for all the right reasons. The niche fragrance brand is present in nearly 60 countries, as stand-alone stores or part of renowned luxury retailers such as Harrods in London and Bergdorf Goodman in New York City, to name a few.
True, Oman’s luxury market is relatively underdeveloped, compared with that of UAE and Qatar in the region. However, clearly the luxury consciousness is catching up.
The recently held Condé Nast International (CNI) Luxury Conference in Muscat is a clear declaration that Oman has become a prime and ripe destination for global luxury brands. Jointly hosted by the Ministry of Tourism, Omran and Oman Air, the conference is sure to boost the Sultanate’s luxury, fashion and retail industries, and has set the stage for wooing more travellers in the niche luxury tourism segment.
According to CNI, Oman stands at the nexus of the global luxury trade, offering a unique perspective on luxury. The conference looked at the new wealth and market potential in Oman as far as the 21st century luxury industry is concerned.
In the hospitality sector, beyond names such as Anantara and Two Roads Hospitality (Alila) that made the rugged natural mountains of Jabal Akhdhar an abode of luxury living, there are the leading global brands such as the Ritz Carlton, Shangri-La, InterContinental, GHM (The Chedi), Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, Millennium and Six Senses. Also, Oman will soon add Kempinski, Fairmont, W and Westin and Louis Vuitton Hotel properties, to name a few, in an effort to accommodate enhanced luxury.
Al Mouj and Muscat Hills golf courses and the upcoming integrated tourism complexes greatly complement this luxurious living philosophy. In the healthcare sector too, we see a definitive trend towards premium luxury hospitals that redefine medical care in terms of not just quality treatment but refined comfort as well.
The personal luxury brands segment too is growing. Retail chains such as Salam Stores and Capital Stores, and high-end shopping malls sell the crème de la crème of luxury brands. Opera Galleria and Al Marsa Village Retail Centre also have an amazing portfolio of exquisite global luxury brands. Indicating good times for the luxe market here, French super brands Chantelle and Angelina are set to open their boutiques shortly at the Sabco Centre, Qurum.
Interestingly, a recent study suggests that more than half of luxury spenders in Oman are willing to spend more on luxury goods and experiences. Generally, people in the Middle East tend to splash out more on luxury experiences such as social events and holidaying — compared with branded goods. However, Oman was one of the two countries where spending on luxury goods scored over spending on experiences.
Super tech gadgets, arts and collectibles all feature prominently on the luxury wish list. But online shopping for luxury goods is yet to take off in Oman, and the majority still prefers in-store buying. Maybe, this has something to do with the Omani culture, where people prefer to meet each other personally, and enjoy dinner together, rather than saying a virtual, hollow hello on Facebook.
At the same time, the number of people seeking luxury experiences is on the rise in the Sultanate. This is significant in the light of the government’s efforts to promote Oman as a luxury tourist destination that offers unique, authentic and memorable experiences to the visitors.