Nigerians Melt Their Gold In Dubai

Dubai likes to describe itself as the city of gold – but many, including Nigerians, don’t just come here to buy new jewellery, they also bring their old necklaces and bracelets to be melted down and restyled.

According to bbc, rows of 22-carat gold chains and bracelets twinkle in the shops at Dubai’s main airport, one of the busiest in the world. Waiting by the gate for the 14:25 flight to Lagos in Nigeria, is the Esochaghi family, who are returning home after a shopping trip.

“My favourite pieces are these necklaces,” says Ugochi Esochaghi, gesturing towards a small butterfly bobbing on a chain round her neck. “I got one for my daughter too, spelling out her name,” she smiles, as toddler Valeria sucks her thumb.

“For me and my family, gold is a really treasured thing. I was brought up with it, I love it.”

Esochaghi’s gold butterfly sparkles under the bright airport lighting as she describes her latest visit to Dubai’s famous gold souk. “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.”

Husband Enyioha, who has been anxiously watching the airport clock, agrees to pose for a photo with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Gold Label whisky he bought in duty free. Esochaghi can’t hide her glee. “You don’t see this everywhere, it’s a special thing so we’re giving it to a good friend as a gift.”

As people become increasingly connected and more mobile, the BBC is exploring how identities are changing. The Esochaghis’ story is part of a series about travellers passing through Dubai International – one of the biggest airports on Earth.

But is it normal for Nigerian families to travel to Dubai to buy gold?

“Yes,” says Ugochi, as she heads for the departure gate. “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.

“Ten to 15 years ago Dubai became famous as a gold souk. Since then it’s developed as a commodities centre, and a trading business has emerged,” says John Mulligan, the WGC’s head of member investor relations.

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