Dubai likes to describe itself as the city of gold – but many, including Nigerians, don’t just go there to buy new jewelry, they also bring their old necklaces and bracelets to be melted down and restyled.
Rows of 22-carat gold chains and bracelets twinkle in the shops at Dubai’s main airport, one of the busiest in the world.
“My favourite pieces are these necklaces,” says Ugochi Esochaghi, one of many Nigerians who restyle their jewelry. “I got one for my daughter too, spelling out her name, for me and my family, gold is a really treasured thing. I was brought up with it, I love it.”
“We brought some of our old jewellery and it was weighed. We were then given some designs to choose from and the ones we wanted were created by melting down the gold we already had.
“It took around two days from start to finish. The product is good and it’s also cheaper here than in Nigeria.”
“A lot of my friends come here. It’s a popular thing to do.” One of seven Emirates, for years Dubai has been furiously marketing itself as a tourist hub – last year it attracted more than 14 million visitors who stayed for at least one night. And gold tourism has been carefully cultivated.
Although there are other global centres for the gold trade – India and China being two of the biggest – according to the World Gold Council (WGC) about 30-40% of the world’s gold flows through tiny Dubai.
Fast cars and flashy jets may come and go, but – for Nigerians in particular – there will always be gold.