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While international prestige beauty brands dominate the Middle East’s beauty market, some local brands are beginning to make a serious play for the hearts and minds of the region’s beauty consumers.

UAE-based skincare brand Shiffa Dubai Skin is one of those leading the charge with distribution in perfumery chain Sephora. The brand describes itself as unique, holistic and natural, inspired by ancient Arabia and developed by a doctor. Shiffa head of sales and marketing Rajaa Rajab says the brand is one of the top-selling skincare brands in Sephora stores in the Middle East.

“Shiffa is the only natural and organic brand that comes from the Middle East region and embraces the Arabic heritage and culture of the UAE,” says Rajab, noting that local brands do not command a large share of the market in the Middle East. Rajab says that to achieve success, local brands should embrace their Arabic roots while at the same time, keep up with new demands of customers and the market.

One of only two local brands distributed in Sephora’s Middle East stores, Shiffa sits alongside Huda Beauty, launched by the region’s most popular beauty blogger, Huda Kattan who has more than 11 million followers on Instagram. Huda Beauty launched in 2013 with the Lash Collection and the brand has since expanded to include products, such as henna tattoos, and contouring lip pencils.

✨✨✨ #hudabeauty3dhighlight

A post shared by Huda Kattan (@hudabeauty) on

Both Shiffa and Huda Beauty are branching out beyond the Middle East and going international. The two brands are slated to launch in Sephora France this summer. Huda Beauty also plans to enter the UK in July, while Shiffa is present in Canada and Australia.

Retailers Play The Local Card

Local beauty retailers have also launched private-label brands in a bid to capitalize on a growing awareness and desire for local products from Middle East beauty consumers. Notably, perfumery chain Wojooh, owned by Dubai-based Chalhoub Group, targeted its private-label make-up brand, Wow by Wojooh which it launched in 2014, directly at Middle Eastern consumers. With slick packaging Wow is backed by a prominent blog on the retailer’s e-commerce site and has quickly caught the attention of local consumers and, importantly, bloggers like Saudi Beauty Blog. Another company Mikyajy (‘My Makeup’ in Arabic) launched as a branded single store concept in 1999 by the Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group (KOJ – also franchise operator of The Body Shop in Western Saudi and Neal’s Yard Remedies). The brand is now distributed in 250 stores in eight countries across the Middle East, according to the company.

Another key entry point for local players looking to crack the Middle East’s beauty market is the increasing demand for halal beauty products. Launched in 2007 in Dubai, OnePure Beauty is a halal certified prestige brand with 13 products that is distributed in Galeries Lafayette and on Saudi Arabian Airlines, for example.

Founded in 2006 and specialising in botanical body oils, Bahrain natural beauty brand Green Bar is available in selected spas and retail outlets in Bahrain, but the brand is banking on internet distribution to grow further afield. Creator Reem al Khalifa is a certified perfumer who creates the blends to reflect a modern take on traditional Middle Eastern beauty rituals.

It seems that there is much room for local brands in the market, especially those that focus on their Middle Eastern roots.

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