The world's most expensive purse, valued at nearly four million U.S. dollars and encrusted with some 4,500 diamonds, is unveiled by jewellers in Dubai.DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (FEBRUARY 23, 2011) - Unemployment and rising food prices may be hurting the poor elsewhere in the Middle East and shaking governments to their foundations.
But in Dubai, shoppers are splurging on luxury retail again after a downturn hit consumer spending in the Gulf Arab emirate.
At Dubai Mall, one of the world's largest shopping compounds, Mouawad jewellers have unveiled the world's most expensive purse, valued at 3.8 millions U.S. dollars.
The purse, encrusted with 4,517 diamonds, was made in France and took approximately 8,800 hours to make.
"This purse is called the 'Mouawad 1001 Nights Diamond Purse.' It is today the most valuable purse in the world, it is certified by the Guinness World Records as that title. It is valued at 3.8 million dollars. It features 4,517 diamonds, white diamonds, yellow diamonds and pink diamonds. It is beautiful, it is in the shape of a heart, inspired by fairy tales and our love of beautiful craftsmanship and art," said Pascal Mouawad, who runs Mouawad Jewellers with his brother, Fred.
Dubai, known for opulent hotels and man-made palm-shaped islands, was the second most attractive city in the world for retailers in 2009, just behind London but ahead of Paris and New York, according to a survey by consultancy CB Richard Ellis.
But retailers in Dubai saw sales slump 45 percent that year when Dubai was hard hit by the global financial crisis and its own real estate crash, according to some industry estimates. Retail started a slow path to recovery in 2010.
And as the luxury goods market begins its recovery, Mouawad jewellers say they have adapted their business model accordingly.
Aside from offering signature pieces, such as the new diamond purse, the company is also offering what it calls "boutique items" that target middle to upper income bracket consumers.
"We're well known for acquiring some of the most important diamonds in the world and we have created pieces that are World Guinness Record [Guinness World Records certified], but we also do carry a lot of lower price points for the middle-upper class. So we are a brand that is reachable, that is attainable, if you will, and that is the new strategy of our house going forward for the next few years," explained Fred Mouawad.
But with a price tag of nearly four million dollars for the purse, one can only wonder who would make such an extravagant purchase.
"All I can say is this purse belongs to one person who deserves nothing less. So it is a man who most likely very much loves their wife or their partner and they would be giving them a very unique piece as a gift," says Fred Mouawad.
And the purse could well be sold soon as the luxury market in Dubai makes a comeback led by demand by wealthy Emiratis and returning tourists from Russia, China and India, retailers and analysts say.
Founded in 1890, Mouawad has boutiques in 15 countries, including the Middle East, Europe, Asia and North America, the company says.