Two important strategic decisions by Informa Exhibitions, organiser of this month’s PALME Middle East in Dubai, ensured that the economic recovery now underway in the UAE was fully represented on the trading floor at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre. At the same time it enabled the three-day trade show to celebrate its tenth anniversary with style and swagger.
With a healthy and rapidly expanding event industry in the region, it took the decision to co-locate PALME Middle East alongside the Middle East EVENT Show — topped off with the popular and prestigious Middle East EVENT Awards on the second night, fully capitalising on the synergy that this provided
Although Dubai remains an essential hub for commerce in the technology industries, in recent years business has migrated further into the GCC and beyond, building an expectation among exhibitors for a greater outreach.
Informa responded by undertaking a complete refocus of its visitor profile — drawing from the Near East and North and Central Africa, as well as the Gulf territories. In fact some of the high rollers at this year’s show came from as far afield as Nigeria. As Gordon Cooper, director of power generation suppliers SES (Entertainment Services) stated rhetorically, “Where else could you meet people from Iraq, Nigeria and Afghanistan all in one room?”
On the stand of his distributors RFW Trading he received an order for AED100,000 from a Nigerian production house — part of “at least AED 250,000 worth of business we will write directly from the show. We have had a fantastic three days and this has been the best PALME ever for us,” he declared.
Another who was delighted to meet Nigerian customers was Extron Electronics’ senior sales manager, Middle East, Ali Al Daghistani — since his region has now expanded into Africa, and they were pleased to see visitors from across the continent.
Although a byword in commercial integrations and switching they received major interest from rental companies for fibre optic and twisted pair extenders for transmitters and receivers, as well as dealers consulting on how to implement complex installation projects.
PALME Middle East was formally opened by His Highness Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who engaged in animated discussion with a number of exhibitors as he and his entourage undertook an official walkabout.
It was clear that he was familiar with many of the brands on display, confirmed PALME exhibition director, Richard Brook. “When you have someone that is as clued up as he is, with a lot of brand familiarity, it really adds value to the show.”
LOBO Electronic again provided the spectacular in the form of its new CREOS laser and multimedia show, with creative director Alex Hennig, describing PALME as “the only place to be” for exposing their advanced laser and multimedia systems to the Middle East market. It was joined by Swiss company Laserworld (launching its Pure Micro Series) and Laser Kinetics Middle East in demonstrating what a valuable marketing tool lasers remain.
Another company which has supported PALME since its inception ten years ago is Protec, whose founder, Stephen Lakin, said the opening morning of the show had been “as good as anything I have seen at the show”. This was attributed to the new Chinese manufactured MAMBO LED screen, which exists in 12mm, 6mm and (shortly) 3mm versions. A giant display, showing recent Protec events on a loop, arrested the attention of visitors as they walked through the door.
Many manufacturers chose PALME Middle East for product launches. One stunning innovation was the Philips Signage 3D screen shown by Thierry Louesse at Fractal Systems, who were making their PALME debut. The glasses-free 3D display was shown in modular format alongside a multi-touch table and can be built up to a 5 x 5 array (measuring 6m x 5m). Soon they promise to have a decoder that will transform any 2D movie into 3D. “PALME represented the perfect opportunity to launch this product,” Louesse said.
The show also honoured its responsibility to training and education. Safety issues was one of the topics that came under the spotlight when Lee Brooks, managing director Prolyte UK, presented a keynote address under the heading Building Truss Systems – Technical Basics and Safety Issues.
Prolyte played a major role at the show, sponsoring the opening night Exhibitor Networking Party (hosted by PALME Middle East Exhibition Director, Richard Brook), and the structure giant was also able to announce a strategic distribution arrangement with Unusual Middle East, effective from the first day of the show. Other well known temporary structure/rigging companies, including Eurotruss Middle East, also took high profile booths.
Several companies had enlarged their presence, none more than TechnoPro, with a massive 1000 square metres. By the end of the show company founder Nabil Bourgeili was able to announce a major deal with one of their long term suppliers, SGM Lighting, for much wider distribution of what he sees as a unique LED offering for both the entertainment and architectural markets.
Thomsun Trading was another of several companies with enlarged presence, and general manager, Biju Thomas and assistant, Alok Ghurde confirmed that the show had more than justified the extra investment, “We have seen many customers from the live sector — in fact it seems the whole rental market is here!”
Most of the local distributors, particularly in the loudspeaker sector, were supported by senior representatives from their suppliers around the globe — again emphasising the impact PALME Middle East continues to have on the world stage. The best example was that of Australian Ben Sweeney, International Sales Manager of mic company Røde, who had flown in for one day from Los Angeles en route to Istanbul to support its distributor Thomsun Trading. “It’s my first time at the show and I couldn’t be more positive. It’s great to be able to communicate our message to Middle Eastern customers.”
Two heavyweights in different market sectors, who attended to capitalise on massive sales to the region were Prysm and API. At last year’s PALME, Dubai TV purchased a Prysm display and followed this up with a second large curved immersive Prysm LPD TD1 videowall for Dubai TV News, supplied by Baba Broadcast Services, and which was being installed as the 2012 edition was taking place.
Meanwhile a top-of-the-range 80 channel Vision studio mixer from API was winging its way to a recording studio in Doha. Director of Sales Dan Zimbelman stating, “The last three years we’ve been focusing on territories where we never had a presence. This was our first opportunity to come to the Middle East and I’m glad we did!”
And so this year’s show had something for everyone — including a vibrant programme of collateral events, with a rolling programme of Expert Seminars, Pro-Audio and Visual Sessions and Exhibitor-led Seminars, which saw steady traffic.
In particular, the opening day PALME Middle East Lighting Solutions Conference was declared a fantastic success by chairman George Katodrytis.
Conference Producer Natalia Kaila said she was delighted by the response. “Moving the exhibitor led sessions to the show floor in particular has been a big success, and we can clearly see this reflected in the attendance.”
Everyone seemed united in believing that the perceived economic recovery in the region would presage greater things to come. This feeling was summed up by Glen Kershaw, sales manager of GSL Professional. “It’s looking really positive again for PALME after the economic downturn in the region over the last few years. The market is definitely recovering and we are showing 18%-20% increase in business in the first quarter.”
Which will be music to the ears of exhibition director Richard Brook. “This year has been a great indicator for what we can hopefully expect in 12 months time,” he said.