If Arabplast 2015 was anything to go by, a stand at the show not only acted as an opportunity to explore the market, but also to steak your claim in it, with a number of exhibitors telling me that they were there to “see and be seen”.
The show acts as a central location for exhibitors to target not only the Middle East, but also as a stepping-stone to surrounding regions. “Arabplast is truly international,” Peter Turner, Sales Manager at UK-based Atlas, told BP&R at the show. “For us, we get an overview of India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, North Africa and more – so for a small show it attracts a lot of different markets meaning you get an overview of the needs of several regions.”
It’s very apparent that despite the aisles not moving at the often-frantic pace of the European and American peer-shows, lack of business there certainly is not at Arabplast. The quality of the visitors, as opposed to the quantity, was commented on by several of the exhibiting companies I spoke to, as well as the use of the show as a meeting point to see existing customers.
“On the first day we met three or four new people who came to us with interesting new projects. For some companies that might be classed as a slow year, but three or four new customers is a positive experience for us,” added Turner.
Chris Plant, exhibiting with Ipswich-based Ashe Converting Equipment, said:
“We already have quite a big market here in the Middle East. For us it's a case of coming and meeting existing customers as well as the potential to meet new ones. It’s a very international show and one which is growing in importance in the eyes of the market.”
The show’s growth, according to its organisers, has been a product of the rapid increase of plastic consumption in the Middle East. This is due in part to both the growing population as well as a growing middle class – all with more expendable income. Along with this growth has come the demand for better and more innovative products and materials giant, Borouge, was quick to affirm its loyalty to its native market by announcing its commitment to help the region become “self sufficient” in the production of plastic products.
“The domestic supply of finished plastic goods is growing, but we still see a lot of import from other regions, meaning there is room for increase in this sector across the Middle East,” commented Khalfan Al Muhairi, Vice President for Sales in the Middle East for Borouge. Al Muhairi explained that demand in the areas of advanced rigid flexible packaging and products for infrastructure was driving investment and innovation in materials in the local area.
This growing demand for self-sufficiency, resulting in considerable investment in equipment and technology in the region is certainly something that has been positive for UK process cooling specialists, IsoCool. The company has experienced “incredible success” in the Middle East over the last few years, according to the company’s Managing Director, Nigel Hallet.
“Our first contract in the region was the supply and installation of a major cooling system for Neproplast, a plastic extrusion company which is part of IKK, the largest construction group in the Middle East,” Hallett told BP&R. “This proved to be the platform for ongoing success. Most recently we’ve secured a significant contract involving the supply of a high performance turnkey chilled water system for Al Zamil Industry for Trade and Transportation, one of the Middle East’s leading water tank manufacturers. Furthermore, we have a lot of MENA-based projects in the pipeline.”
The company said that it made “perfect sesnse” therefore, for it to ehibit at Arabplast 2015, which it did alongside Eurochiller.
“Arabplast 2015 did not disappoint. The show itself attracted a good number of visitors from all over the MENA region, most of whom were decision makers, such as CEOs, Vice Presidents, and Managing Directors. Those whom we spoke to expressed real interest in IsoCool’s services."
IsoCool told BP&R it has immediate plans to return to the Middle East – twice in February in fact – with the pull so strong in the region that the company’s next step is to open an office there.
Other technologies that were creating interest at the show were those for recycling. Several exhibitors told us that the MENA region was “finally waking up to the realisation that you cannot just waste plastics”. The feeling amongst those we spoke to was an emerging market for recycling machinery developing in the Middle East, although they were not expecting big investment at the moment due to the current low price of raw materials.
It will be interesting to see how the market has developed between now and its next outing, due to take place 8-10 January 2017.