A User Guide to the Mega Wholesale Mobile Phone Business in the UAE – (Part 1)


These series of articles are meant for both indivduals in the Mobile Industry as well as ones with an interest to understand the dynamics of this interesting and fast moving trade. There is quite a possibility that you are reading this article on your mobile phone as this gadget has now virtually became an extension of our body that you can’t do without. The magnitude of this business from Dubai can be imagined by the fact that around 12% of Dubai’s annual trade revolves around these devices and that’s a staggering 35-40 Billion US$. 

Now lets get on to our journey; you have to close your eyes and take a deep breath, we are going to detach ourselves from the global facts and figures and delve right into what I would like to refer as the “Souk / Bazar Trade”. Here in the Souk / Bazar a Mobile Phone is no different than a sack of Chili Powder or a Bag of Cement. What’s good in the Souk is what sells and makes money for you, its about speed and delivery of the product. No one’s bothered about how many mega pixels does a certain mobile phone have or the screen size and resolution or even the speed of its processor. The game in this arena is the ready availability of stock and the right price where you are able to squeeze a little margin. Yes, you are lucky if you are averaging 1-1.5% on your trade, its about turn over and cost efficiency. We are talking about wholesale deals of mobile phones from 1 units to 100,000 units in some cases.

So whats the basic qualification for you to get into this business? Well first of all you should be street smart with a wolf’s instinct, can chew your ego at times as you would be swimming with the sharks and niceties are almost never on the menu of discussions and YES, you must be “Calculator Savvy”, that’s it. Once you’re in the game and move ahead then you’ll learn the ropes and the maneuvering in the dark alleys of the trade. One last bit of caution before I proceed; in case you have decided to jump into this trade then please note that being a high school graduate is already being over qualified, if you have a college degree and have spent some time working for a fancy multinational then quite a nasty surprise awaits you as this Industry does not work on Power Point presentations or Excel Sheets. Having an MBA degree can be injurious to your health because trying to devise strategies would get you to miss the bus. I have known quite a few individuals jumping in this business because of being laid off from their fancy jobs with Mobile Manufacturers, the brands died and all they knew was the mobile trade but they were on the supply side. Once they entered the market and faced the stark realities of life only then could they realized the “Real World”, most of these people simply left and went back to the fancy corner offices in some corporation. Only the “Fittest” survive in this game.

Around 70-75% of the trade revolves around just 3 brands; Samsung, Apple and Huawei. Every other brand formulates the rest and have sporadic seasonal spikes due a launch of a specific model.

So lets begin our journey that had begun around 20 years ago with a mass production of mobile phones and is now reaching a turning point in its history. The war has shifted from Mobile Brands to that of the Operating systems and around 90-95% is shared between iOS and Android. During the series we would addressing the following topics per post:

  • Trading Spots (DAFZA, JAFZA, Nasser Square, Al Musalla Road, Gargash Centre)
  • Traders (Whales, Wolves, Sharks, Vultures, Foxes)
  • Suppliers (Middle East, North and South America, Germany, Poland, Kong Kong, Singapore)
  • Market (Regional and International Destinations)
  • The Salesman (wtb, wts, Bro, Brother, Slippery, Best Friend, Slimy, Professional)
  • Freight Forwarders (Keepers and Leakers of all Secret Information)
  • Brands
  • Used Phone Business
  • Business of Accessories
  • Online Marketplace (Handelot, GSM Exchange)
  • Service Facilities and Freelance Technical Teams)

I do not claim that you would become an expert in this business after going through these blogs but this is just like reading and going through a manual for driving a car. You would be equipped with exact information to start getting your hands dirty. This is an addictive business and once you are in it then you are done for good because it just sucks you right into its abyss.

I would also like to confess that most of what I would be writing in these blogs is usually a tightly held secret within the trading community so its a bit blasphemous what I am trying to do; take advantage of this.

I would appreciate your feedback either in comments or by contacting me at masomo@eim.ae and I would try my best to address your queries and questions.

Please stay tuned for the next blog on the Trading Spots.

Happy Trading.

Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA)-Home of the Middle East Mobile Phone Trade

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