#DXB23: UAE gets Middle East’s first Jordan store

Sneakerheads rejoice - only the 4th Jordan shop in the world opens in Dubai Mall.

Neil Churchill June 30, 2016

Next time you’re strolling on Dubai’s JBR or City Walk, take a look at what the adolescents around you are wearing on their feet.

Chances are they’ll be donning the latest high top branded sneakers by one of the big athletic brands. A Steph Curry-inspired Under Armour shoe maybe, possibly a Kanye West-influenced adidas Yeezy Boost. But if the wearer is really showing off they’ll be in a pair of Air Jordans, and you’re about to see a lot more of the Jumpman logo on Dubai’s streets.

We’ve gone into depth before on these pages about how Michael Jordan's Nike deal changed sports marketing forever, with modern day athletes like Usain Bolt and Roger Federer having Jordan to thank for forging the path of lucrative sponsorship deals. 

Well now the #23 brand has opened shop in Dubai, becoming only its fourth outlet in the world and second outside the US. 

Located in Dubai Mall, conveniently opposite the Nike shop, the Jordan-only store stocks both its performance athletic wear and its more lifestyle sportswear items, from shorts and vests to shoes and hats. A locked case displays some of the brand’s legacy sneakers and there are also Dubai branded items including snapbacks and t-shirts, both in Arabic and English. 

A lot of thought has gone into the detail of the store, with artworks of the man himself and the brand’s current ambassadors looking down on shoppers from the walls, while basketball figurines take up the centre circle.

As only the brand’s second location outside of the US, beating rival cities such as London, Singapore and Shanghai to host a store, it’s a telling sign of the power and position the UAE’s sneakerhead culture has in the world. The opening night’s VIB (Very Important Baller) guests indicated the brand’s audience and its current marketing ploy; teen vloggers with hundreds of thousands of subscribers on YouTube. 

As Oliver Pressinger, head of sales for the Jordan brand and Nike Basketball in the Middle East told EDGAR, it’s a big deal that Dubai has been chosen.

“Think about the other three cities. New York City – the home of basketball and sneaker culture. Chicago – Michael Jordan’s city, where he won all his championships with the Bulls. Hong Kong – that hub in Asia, which is what Dubai also represents; the meeting of the Middle East and Europe. You don’t get a more diverse audience.”

While you’re more likely to see a pair of Air Jordans being worn to the cinema rather than the basketball court in the UAE, Pressinger insists the company is still a performance brand first of all, and the Dubai Mall store emphasises that. “When you come in the door, the first thing you see is performance basketball, it’s central to the brand," he said.

“All the legacy shoes on the wall, all the retro styles that our buyers are consuming, these were all the pinnacle performance items in 1991, '92, '95. They were the best performance basketball shoe you could get at the time. So we hope the shoes we’re creating now, these kids in 10 or 15 years, they’ll buy them because they’ll remember our ambassadors today wearing them. You have to create that legacy for the next generation." 

Pressinger also said that the store will feature exclusive products, including further legacy items, and that as only the fourth store globally it will bring the best the brand has to offer.

If you’re not used to it already, get familiar with the Jumpman logo. You’re about to see a lot more of it.