Trade show organisers will link hands with the state authorities to enhance Dubai`s status as the premier events and conventions centre hub in the region, and its importance on the global scale, a senior industry executive stated yesterday.
“At a recent meeting top industry officials had with General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai & UAE Minister of Defence, he pointed out that the new regional situation requires us to think differently.
He said “while we may have to take a short-term earnings hit, we should also think in terms of how we can contribute to keeping the exhibitions industry forging ahead” as partners in the business, Bernard Walsh, managing director, dmg Index Exhibitions Ltd, which forms part of the Daily Mail group, stated yesterday.
“This year, the Big 5 show will be the biggest ever, with around 12 per cent more space booked (at 15,800 square metres), and 14 per cent more companies (880) from 39 countries occupying all seven halls at the Dubai World Trade Centre. These have, further, been achieved at ongoing rates - there has been no tariff cut” to entice exhibitors, he clarified.
In line with Sheikh Mohammed`s observations, he indicated the industry would join forces with the government to overcome any short-term effects. “We ourselves are confident next year`s Index and Big 5 exhibitions will be even bigger.”
He acknowledged it would be naive to feel regional events would have no local impact: “True, we have received a few cancellations, but these have had no significant impact on the show, with the Dubai and the UAE itself having weathered recent global events better than most. Further, the view here is positive - while there is acknowledgement there might be a problem, let`s stand together and fight it.”
Walsh pointed out that the message that needs to be sent across strongly to overseas exhibitors is that there is no security issue in Dubai and the UAE.
Interestingly, state officials and trade association representatives from three nations - the UK, Germany and Australia - who also addressed the media yesterday, clarified there has been no travel alert put out by them.
Joseph Reynolds, commercial attache at the British embassy, stated categorically there has been no travel alert put out by his government on visitors to the UAE, with Dr Jurgen Freidrich of the Dubai-based Germany Industry & Commerce Office stating the same.
Julie Bayliss, senior trade commissioner and consul general, Australian Trade Comm-ission (Austrade), clarified: “We have asked visitors to exercise caution when travelling to this region, but there is no `don`t travel` advisory.”
Added Keith Stubbs of Australia`s Master Builders` Association: “As far as the private sector is concerned, we are keen to do business, which is why we are here.”
The upcoming event, which will serve the GCC construction sector - which is this year projected to spend $45 billion, or 3 per cent of all construction worldwide, which is significant given the low population density here - is scheduled to be opened by Humaid bin Nasir Al Owais, Minister of Water & Electricity.
Significantly, construction growth in Dubai alone is expected to average 8.2 per cent over the next four years, which holds out potential against other more developed markets where projects are slowing down.
Germany, with over 150 companies, forms the largest among 17 national pavilions, with Canada and Malaysia being new entrants. Further, the UAE itself fields some 152 firms. The show`s five-day run will have some 50 seminars running concurrently.