Plastic credit cards are forever, or so it would seem, especially when, wait for it…. they’ve a real diamond embedded in them. Novel or what? Or just another gimmick in the competitive and highly lucrative credit card market.
As you might have expected, Bank Sohar’s launch of its new Excel Diamond Infinite Credit Card at a press conference held at the Grand Hyatt in Muscat, the capital of Oman, is aimed not at the ordinary man in the street but at high net worth individuals who nowadays expect a lot more than just a simple piece of plastic. The new card will be distributed to select customers at the bank’s discretion, and will provide the card holder with a high spending limit and exclusive benefits, including special services and privileges at Harrods, free priority pass membership, meet-and-assist services, concierge services, and much more.
A report of the launch in the Muscat Daily, the largest selling newspaper in the Sultanate of Oman, describes the credit card as unique because it features an actual diamond embedded into the card, further adding to its exclusivity and cache.
Mohamed Abdulaziz Kalmoor, CEO of Bank Sohar, told the Muscat Daily, “The launch of the Visa Infinite Card reflects our commitment and provides our valued customers with unrivalled spending power combined with outstanding privileges.” The card, says the bank, has been specifically designed for selective high net worth clients who seek exclusivity and the ability to exercise complete control over their spending requirements. Apart from unrivalled purchasing power, the card also comes with exclusive features accessed by calling a dedicated toll-free number.
The appetite for credit cards – exclusive or otherwise – is not just confined to Oman. International visitors to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) spent over $589 million on their Visa cards during this year’s annual Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), a 19 per cent increase on last year according to data issued by Visa Inc., the world’s largest retail electronic payments network and a lead sponsor of the region’s premier shopping event.
The results collected by the company’s VisaVue® Travel data service indicated the month-long retail and shopping extravaganza got off to an excellent start, with spending on overseas-issued Visa cards in the first week of DSF touching $153.35 million [January 3-9, 2013]. The Friday of the first weekend of the sale [January 4, 2013] also witnessed record spending, with over $25 million spent on overseas Visa cards.
The data also revealed that card holders from Russia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the USA were the top spenders during DSF 2013, contributing in excess of $82 million, $66 million, $53 million and $45 million respectively to the UAE economy.
Visa card holders from each of these countries showed significant increases in spending compared to DSF 2012, with Russians spending 34 per cent more on their Visa cards compared to last year’s sale, while Saudis spent 26 per cent more than DSF 2012. UK and USA spending was up by 14 per cent and 32 per cent respectively.
Marcello Baricordi, General Manager for Visa in UAE, said, “The record Visa card usage during DSF 2013 reinforces the growing popularity of the retail extravaganza among international shoppers. As one of the key sponsors of DSF, Visa is committed to further enhancing this shopping experience and cementing Dubai’s reputation as a premier shopping destination.”
Visa has sponsored the Dubai Shopping Festival since its inauguration in 1996. To find out more, check out the online version of the Muscat Daily here.