Dubai links with world’s oldest event manager

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Sunday, Sep 04, 2011

Gulf News

Dubai With the end of Ramadan, exhibition season in Dubai is ready to kick off. The Dubai World Trade Centre hosts nine exhibitions every year, organised by Epoc Messe Frankfurt, the international trade show and event organiser.

Messe Frankfurt, which traces its roots back to the thirteenth century, is the oldest and second largest trade fair organiser in the world. After buying Epoc in Dubai in 2002, the company is looking to expand its operations in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region as well as the UAE. It is now the fourth biggest organiser in Dubai. “Dubai is a trade hub…[and] has a unique place in the Middle East,” said Ahmad Pauwels, the company’s CEO, in an interview with Gulf News.

Manufacturers who want to expand their businesses into the region are confident that visitors from the Middle East and all over the world will come to Dubai, he said.

Pioneering events

That confidence is crucial to a successful exhibition, and communication is an integral part of attracting both visitors and exhibitors to a show in Dubai, with marketing campaigns aimed at exhibitors taking off a year in advance, said Pauwels. Three months before the event, advertising aimed at potential visitors begins.

This could be especially relevant when it comes to new exhibitions that are unfamiliar to an industry. This year, the group launched Paperworld, an exhibition for office supplies, for the first time. It was successful, but not all new shows are. “Some may not hit,” Pauwels said.

Epoc Messe Frankfurt’s exhibitions have met with impressive success. “Exhibitors have told us that after the first day they’ve already earned back their investments,” Pauwels said.

Because they are an international exhibition group, confidence among exhibitors in the company is high. “They know there is a 95 per cent chance of success,” said Pauwels. However, exhibitors and visitors alike look for something more than just a successful show; as in everything, location is key.

People look for a modern venue that is close to hotels and restaurants, in a city that is easily reached from many different locations, Pauwels pointed out. Some are also looking to combine the exhibition with a vacation, and Dubai’s many tourist attractions make it an ideal location for international shows.

Messe Frankfurt has a presence in 144 countries worldwide, and Epoc is its second biggest international subsidiary. The company is looking to expand beyond Dubai into the Mena region.

Feasibility studies on Saudi Arabia have been completed, and Pauwels predicts that it will be ready to hold its first exhibition next year. Qatar will also be ready within the next couple of years, and the company is looking at Kenya as a base into Africa.

This year looks to be a successful one for trade shows and exhibits after a few dismal years in the wake of the recession. But the way the market has rallied is something Pauwels says is “very remarkable”. Confidence in Dubai surged after the Burj Khalifa opening. “The next day the telephone didn’t stop ringing…[the market] hasn’t stopped growing since.”

By Nadia Eldemerdash, Staff Reporter

© Gulf News 2011. All rights reserved.