A Borouge official in discussion with a visitor

A Borouge official in discussion with a visitor

Expo Centre Sharjah hosts multiple events

01 May 2014

EXHIBITORS taking part in a multi-sector trade event in Sharjah used the opportunity to expand their presence in the fast-growing Middle East and North Africa market.

Visitor turnout and participation at the second Plastivision Arabia, the second Arabia Mold, the inaugural Print Pack Arabia, and the fifth International Conference for Plastics Conversion (PlastiCon) was high.

“Most of the exhibitors are optimistic about the Mena and GCC growth story and are planning to expand their presence in the region,” said Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, CEO, Expo Centre Sharjah.

The World Bank Group’s latest regional economic update projects growth in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region to accelerate from an average of 2.6 per cent in 2013 to 4.6 per cent in 2015. Higher global and regional demand is also expected to boost exports of manufactured products.

Rising real estate prices and coming mega events such as World Expo 2020 and FIFA World Cup 2022 are expected to further boost growth.

“We are planning to expand in the GCC and Africa market to join the development and growth happening here,” said Hemanth Kumar, managing director, Accurate International Trading FZCO, which showcased a set of international products from Asia and Europe at Arabia Mold. “We are receiving high interest in our products,” he added.

Foreign participation in the event was dominated by Indian exhibitors, mainly due to the tie-up with the All India Plastics Manufacturers Association for Plastivision Arabia and the Indian Printing, Packaging and Allied Machinery Manufacturers’ Association for Print Pack Arabia.

“The regional market is on a high growth path as we can see our customers are modernising their products to catch up with rapidly changing market needs,” said Vinay Krishnan, general manager, AFRA International FZC. He said his stall at Print Pack Arabia 2014, drew a good response. The company exhibited the latest technologies in rigid box-making solutions at the fair.

Sheikh Mohammed and Pal jointly opening the events

Sheikh Mohammed and Pal jointly opening the events

Together, the three trade fairs targeted the plastics, mould-making, printing and packaging industries and featured more than 250 exhibitors from across the world, covering a wide spectrum of industries critical to the region.

Plastivision Arabia had a Business Opportunity Pavilion, Consultation Counters, and a Recruitment Pavilion, offering complete manpower and training solutions, industry information and business leads to regional companies.

“We are keen to explore this growing market where customers are looking for high-quality steel products. At Arabia Mold, we offered a new generation steel called toolox,” said Hakan Engstorm, technical manager, SSAB. Toolox is a modern quenched and tempered pre-hardened tool and machine steel that is ready to use and helps save time.

3D solutions in printing and mould-making made a big impact at the show. “In the GCC, we are seeing a lot of interest in our 3D printing and we are expecting the technology to play a key role in architecture-related sectors and education. The expected boom in construction business in the run up to the World Expo 2020 will see demand for 3D printers go up as they are used for model and structure presentations,” said P Viswanathan, division manager, Jacky’s Business Solutions The company introduced three main products at Arabia Mold – Artec 3D, MakerBot and Stratasys 3D. “We had a great response from some quality visitors,” said Viswanathan.

The show also opened up a new window of business opportunities to firms manufacturing eco-friendly products. “The GCC is our main target market with a promising future,” said Nicola Mellon of Eston Chimica. Her company showcased innovative water-based inks that are eco-friendly and chemical-free and ideal for printing on food packaging. With 80 per cent share, Eston Chimica dominates the Italian market and Print Pack Arabia opened for it a window of opportunity.

The Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA)’s PlastiCon 2014 focused on the growth of plastics conversion both globally and in GCC countries, offering a great opportunity for trade representatives to gain insights into challenges and developments facing conversion today.

One of the stalls at the Expo Centre Sharjah shows

One of the stalls at the Expo Centre Sharjah shows

The GCC plastics industry offers a tremendous opportunity for the emergence of a dynamic and innovative small and medium enterprises (SME) sector, observed the GPCA.

“Manufacturers who transform basic plastic products into finished goods represent nearly 20 per cent of the region’s plastic industry,” said Dr Abdulwahab Al Sadoun, secretary-general of the GPCA. “These plastics converters introduce a number of additives to manufacture finished goods that suit the requirements of a diverse range of industries.”

According to GPCA research, the plastics conversion market comprises over 1,000 companies that can be classified as small and medium enterprises, including family-owned businesses and startups.

The shows were jointly inaugurated by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Saud Bin Sultan Al Qassimi, chairman of the Sharjah Department of Central Finance, and Indrajit Pal, secretary Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals, India.

The opening was attended by Ahmed Mohammed Al Midfa, chairman, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, CEO, Expo Centre Sharjah, and top executives of co-organisers All India Plastics Manufacturers Association, Demat, Indian Printing Packaging and Allied Machinery Manufacturers’ Association, Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association and other guests.

“Plastics consumption in the Middle East is driven by the packaging and construction industries, followed by consumer goods and textiles. A rapidly growing young population, big-ticket construction projects, and bigger penetration of pre-packed foods are driving consumption, prompting the region’s plastics producers to look at acquiring new machinery and technology to keep pace with demand,” said Ahmed Al Midfa.

According to a PCI Films Consulting report, the flexible packaging industry in the Middle East and Africa is valued at $4 billion in 2013, and is growing five per cent annually. The second largest consumer of plastics, the construction sector, has around $3.45 trillion worth of projects in the design, bid or construction stage until 2025 in the GCC, according to another report.

With plastics being an ideal packaging material for all sorts of commercial and industrial users, the introduction of Print Pack Arabia has given a new dimension to Plastivision Arabia & Arabia Mold,” said Saif Al Midfa.

Spurred by rising regional advertising spend, expanding retail landscape and increasing exports, the printing and packaging industry looked at Print Pack Arabia as the best platform to source their requirements of new technology, designs and products. This is particularly so because 80 per cent of firms operating in the field are based in Sharjah and the Northern Emirates.

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