View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Friday, March 23, 2007

Longing for a Magrudy's Bookshop In Fujairah

I adore bookshops. Even though I buy books online, the smell and touch of a book are a sensual experience that a virtual bookshop cannot provide.

I identify with that character in a novel who made lengthy trips to her local bookshop to do some reading and she kept her place by using a strand of her hair as a bookmark.

When my wife and I are visiting cities like Florence, we hit the galleries and museums hard in the morning and then love to spend an hour or three in a bookshop, resting the legs and filling up our emotional tanks.

You can imagine how my heart leapt the other day when I was passed by a Magrudy’s van on my way home to Fujairah from the Dubai International airport. My immediate thought was, “A Magrudy’s Bookshop is coming out east!”

When the van stopped at the Friday Market I pulled over and I asked the guys if they were making plans for a new bookshop in Fujairah. Unfortunately for me, Ricky and Shinor were heading off to a book fair in a Fujairah school but I later called the Magrudy’s headquarters to pop my question.

Jonathan MacDonald, Chief of Franchising and Marketing, explained that Magrudy’s was one of the oldest bookshops in the region and that the business was developing rapidly. The new Abu Dhabi shop is due to open at the end of May this year and the biggest of their shops—in Festival City—will bring their U.A.E. tally to eight.

Jonathan said he gets lots of calls from people at Ras al Khaimah and Al Ain asking for a local bookshop. He said after undertaking some research he had no immediate plans for a shop in Fujairah but “it is on his radar.”

I gave Jonathan MacDonald these reasons for bringing an east coast Magrudy’s from the radar to reality:

* There is a booming hotel business with a flourishing tourist population along the east coast.

* The new freeway/motorway will lessen the travel time considerably between Dubai and Fujairah, thus causing droves of frazzled people who are tired of the smog and the clogged roads to leave the big smoke and base themselves in the relative calm of Fujairah.

* The recently announced Creativity City at the doorway of Fujairah must surely connect with books and education.

* The soon to be established Safeer Mall on the Fujairah coastline with its 100 shops, 5 anchor stores and 13 feeding and drinking holes will be the ideal spot for Magrudy’s or its competitor.

In the meantime, some Magrudy’s books within a major Fujairah supermarket, à la Spinney’s in Dubai, will be a useful way to test the market and build a presence.

If you’d like to write to Jonathan and give him another reason why he should be developing the market out east you can send him a letter via the Contact link on the recently renovated Magrudy’s web site.

Geoff Pound

Image: Magrudy’s staff members Ricky and Shinor on their way out east for an important book fair.