MUMBAI (Commodity Online): According to World Gold Council (WGC), the Middle East non-resident Indian community demonstrated on May 16 that cultural traditions and heritage remain alive and well. Gold retailers in the GCC saw the best day of sales so far this year on the back of the festival, in which gold plays an important part.

Collectively, more than 720 kilograms of gold and more than US$30 million changed hands at key gold retailers across the GCC during the festival. Volumes have increased 11% compared to the same Akshaya Tritiya in 2009. Excluding the increase in gold price, the revenues witnessed an increase of 12% compared to last year's festival.

The prominent Indian festival, Akshaya Tritiya, is one of the most important gold buying occasions in the region and one of the most auspicious Indian festivals. Buying gold on this day is an ancient tradition and it is believed that any venture or investment initiated on this day will continue to grow and bring prosperity.

The strong demand further demonstrates the enduring value of gold and its significant cultural role. Tomy Joseph, General Manager of Joyalukkas spoke of the importance of such festivals in the gold sales calendar, With such a large NRI community, cultural festivals such as this are an important date in our calendars. The response has been very positive and we are expecting a similar response to other cultural festivals later in the year.

This year we have seen greater interest than ever before, due to the confidence of consumers. Our sales have doubled over the previous year. One customer alone spent more than 200,000 Dirhams. The boost in demand we have seen demonstrates that there remains a strong appetite for gold jewellery driven by cultural affinity, fashion and wealth preservation, added Sanjay Jethwani, Partner of Meena Jewellers.

Ajay Mitra, Managing Director for Middle East and Turkey, World Gold Council, commented, The fact that retailers continue see increased gold consumption around festivals such as this further highlights gold's strong cultural role, and that gold buying remains a symbolic activity that is strongly observed across nationalities and religions.