Marks & Spencer No of stores: 17

Marks & Spencer has international franchises in seven Middle East countries, including Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Dubai, which are operated by the Al-Futtaim Group. Its latest opening was a 52,000 sq ft store - about twice the size of a standard British supermarket - in Dubai Festival City in February this year, which offers a range of food, homewares and clothing and also has a restaurant, espresso bar and bakery. M&S also operates two further stores in Dubai.

Sainsbury No of stores: 0

Sainsbury's is reportedly in talks with potential partners about a relaunch into the Middle East, its first venture into the territory after pulling out of Egypt in 2001. Sainsbury's entered the Egyptian market in 1999 and ran a 100-store business for a troubled two years. The chain faced opposition from Islamic activists, who urged a boycott of the store because they believed it had links with Israel. It pulled out of the country in 2001, blaming a poor trading environment.

Waitrose No of stores: 1

Waitrose has kicked off its ambitions in the Middle East with a store under its fascia run under a licensing arrangement with Spinneys Dubai. Two further purpose-built stores in Dubai are set to open in July and October, with the typical store size 25,000 sq ft. Waitrose, in partnership with Spinneys, plans to open 20 stores in the UAE by 2010. MD Mark Price began the retailer's international drive in the Gulf because it is home to a large and affluent British expat community that fits its retail profile.