Image via WikipediaHaving visitors over for the festive season meant an inevitable trip to Dubai's Karama district which, together with Satwa, remains one of the few wholly 'organic' communities in this city of zones and gated developments. It's a fantastic place to wander around, two long buildings either side of the road packed with shops selling, in the main, clothes, bags and watches. You'll never see so many shifty looking geezers in your life, a constant wash of voices jabbering:
"Here! Here! Genuine fakes!"
"Come and see! We have a secret room!"
"Gucci bags! Gucci bags!"
"Watches? You want watches? Rolex?"
"This way, please, this way. We have Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, all good price."
Karama has long been the home of the fake trade, the place to go if you want to wear big name brands for knock-down prices. I was amazed that, clampdown after crackdown, it's still not only there, but thriving in the open. There are phases to IP protection campaigns that recognise the trade starts in the open, reverts to being 'under the counter' and then, as the crackdowns really bite, in a third place. Karama's out there in the open, under the counter AND in a third place, which is pretty comprehensive!
My other surprise was that the goods on sale represented knockoffs of brands that are very much available in the malls - big players in Karama right now include Ed Hardy, Mulberry, Louboutin and Bulgari. I had always thought that Karama post-crackdown only dealt in brands that had no recourse to local authority because they're not represented in the region. Think again, then...
My third surprise was the quality of the fakes. I 'm not even sure they are 'fakes' in the true sense of the word, because the factories making these things across China are, these days, likely the self-same factories making the real thing.