As someone who frequently visits the Middle East, I’ve come to see that Arab women are just as interested in beauty products just as much as their counterparts in London or New York if not more. There are salons and spas on almost every street in Saudi Arabia and in Dubai, spas and nail bars are incredibly popular. I recently met Alex Epstein, former contestant of The Apprentice in 2010, and we had a very interesting conversation about the beauty market in the Middle East and how brands such as Illamasqua are very popular in the Emirates.
The cosmetics market in the Middle East is huge with it being worth more than $2.1 billion but there are many brands that simply haven’t recognised how successful they’d be should they decide to start trading in the Middle East, especially countries such as Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. A make-up artist I know from Dubai was expressing her disappointment at how Tom Ford cosmetics are unavailable to her in the Emirates and many brands launch their products a lot later after launching in the UK and USA.
Despite the fact that some brands seem to not be showing interest in the Middle East, L’Oreal recently appointed Arab’s Got Talent judge and multi-platinum Lebanese singer Najwa Karam as their ambassador for the Middle East. L’Oreal has a visible presence in the Middle East with their advertisements and billboards however, instead of using an Arab face, oftentimes you’d see advertisements with Andie Macdowell and Aishwarya Rai with a voice over in Arabic. After so long, it’s great to see that L’Oreal is advertising and catering to Arab women through another Arab woman who they can most likely relate to.
Another company breaking the mold is Lancome with Tunisian model Hanaa Ben Abdesslem becoming the face of the brand.
By embracing their Arab consumers, brands like L’Oreal and Lancome are sure to succeed in a market which has been hit by the credit crunch a lot less than in the West and hopefully other companies will follow suit too.