Dubai, UAE: Paperworld Middle East 2018 concluded its three-day run in Dubai in top form once again last week (1 March 2018), with thousands of trade buyers stopping by the region’s dedicated trade fair for the paper, stationery, and office supplies industries.
The 8th edition of the annual exhibition welcomed 7,004 visitors from more than 90 countries at the Dubai World Trade Centre, while 303 exhibitors from 42 countries presented their latest wares in a regional market hungry for new ideas and business solutions.
Sharing centre-stage on the show floor were dozens of product launches and new partnership announcements, while the digital world, corporate gifts, leather items and children’s lifestyle products were among the topics presenting a whole new world of potential business opportunities.
The show’s co-location with Leatherworld Middle East, the region’s only B2B platform for leather goods and accessories, proved popular with regional trade buyers, as did the new Corporate Gifts section and the revamped Playworld Pavilion replete with children’s toys and games.
Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, the organiser of both Paperworld and Leatherworld Middle East, said the company’s plan to present a broader spectrum of products and solutions to regional trade buyers had worked.
“We saw an opportunity to co-locate Leatherworld and Paperworld Middle East for the first time in 2018 to leverage the synergies of the two platforms and offer our exhibitor and visitor profiles from both shows more networking opportunities,” said Pauwels.
“Early indications are that the strategy has worked, combined with the new Corporate Gifts section and the revived Playworld Pavilion. For example, now a regional distributor of traditional office supplies comes to the show and sees opportunities to add children’s toys, premium leather supplies, and promotional gift items as part of their product portfolio.”
Pauwels’ comments were reiterated by Mohamed Alayat, Managing Director of Alpha Art Gifts, one of more than a dozen companies specialising in the A to Z of promotional items at Paperworld Middle East’s Corporate Gifts section.
Alpha Art Gifts was launching several new items at the show, including wireless mobile charging notebooks, and ‘intelligent’ coal-less oud sets. Alayat also highlighted the company’s designed and made in UAE range of more than 50 promotional items under its Event brand name.
“Most of the visitors this week are distributors of office supplies and they’re really interested in our products, particularly the UAE-made items, and that’s exactly what we wanted,” said Alayat, adding that visitors had come from across the Middle East and Africa, including Ghana, Saudi, Kuwait, and the UAE.
“But we were surprised to see that 20-30 percent of visitors were promotional gift re-sellers, while many visitors even approached us for retail opportunities which was totally unexpected. This is a new channel for us and we’ve already arranged some meetings for next week to see how we can supply our items for the retail sector,” added Alayat.
Paperworld Middle East’s refined Playworld Pavilion also enjoyed a resurgence in 2018, with more than two dozen global manufacturers of children’s toys, games, and lifestyle products taking part this year.
Germany’s Spiegelburg was returning to the dedicated section for the first time in seven years, having first exhibited at Paperworld Middle East’s inaugural edition in 2011. The 40-year old family business initially started out as a children’s book publisher, but has since branched out into children’s toys, stationery, and gifts.
“The Middle East is very important for us because we’ve learnt that here there’s a huge market for companies that are organising parties and events for children, and they’re very much looking for quality and imaginative products that children can enjoy,” said Barbara Wolff, Managing Director at Spiegelburg. “We find inspiration everywhere for our products and we’re looking for partners who have the same ideals as us. We’ve met some interesting potential partners not just from this region, but also India and Africa.”
Paperworld Middle East 2018 was also the scene for the announcement of a new manufacturing partnership between UAE-based Capital Envelopes and US-headquartered Sealed Air, the world leader of protective packaging and inventor of the ubiquitous bubble wrap.
The joint venture between the two companies will see Capital Envelopes as the licensed manufacturer in the Middle East and Africa of Sealed Air’s full range of Mail Lite branded protective envelopes and mailers.
Ali Haider, CEO of Capital Envelopes, a long-time Paperworld Middle East exhibitor, said the new agreement is targeted to serve the wider region’s burgeoning e-commerce sector: “E-commerce is big space, and it’s going to continue to grow from the West to the East,” said Haider.
“Industry reports have indicated that in 2018, there’ll be around US$10 billion in of e-commerce trade in the UAE alone. If you think that packaging is one percent of the cost, that’s a pretty big number.”
Haider said the industry response at Paperworld Middle East 2018 to the new partnership has been largely positive, adding: “We’ve had a healthy reaction from all our primary regional distributors that are keen to take this product on-board, while we’ve also had a visit from Noon.com, one of the Gulf region’s largest e-commerce platforms.
“Within the next six weeks, we’ll have product on the floor, and we’re going to build on that. We’re working currently on bringing all the necessary manufacturing equipment to the UAE and we should be ready to manufacture before the year is out,” added Haider.
Paperworld Middle East 2018 featured country pavilions from Germany, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, and Pakistan, while the UAE contingent was as strong as ever, with the 31 local exhibitors on-board headed by Farook International Stationery, Capital Envelopes, NGR Paper, Hoshan Pan Gulf, and Party Camel.
First-time exhibitor Pininfarina Signo from Italy was on-hand with its high-end range of Italian designed and made writing instruments and leather accessories including bags, clutches and portfolios.
Fabio Malfotto, Partner and Head of Export Development at Pininfarina Signo, highlighted its headline act at the show – a 40,000 euro limited edition pen replete with 590 diamonds and 38 grams of gold: “This pen is called Cambiano and is something really unique,” said Malfotto. “It took our artisans 67 hours to make by hand, and there’s only five pieces manufactured in 2018.
“Aside from that, our products are very unique and can be customised as corporate gifts. All our products are handmade and the reaction from potential distributors at Paperworld Middle East 2018 has been very good. We’ve just finished meetings with our distributor in Lebanon but we’re also had discussions with partners from India, Iran, and even from Canada and Australia, which we didn’t expect.”
Paperworld Middle East 2018 was also a happy hunting ground for Mina Azer, key account manager at The Expertologists, who was returning as a visitor searching for brands to partner with for the company’s marketing service.
“I’m happy to be here at Paperworld Middle East 2018, and am looking for what is new in the market and new opportunities for my business,” said Azer. “As usual, I found a lot of enhancements in this year’s edition and a lot of new opportunities. I’ve found what I am looking for and look forward to another visit next year.”
Among the returning popular features to Paperworld Middle East 2018 was the Green Room, featuring ethically produced and environmentally friendly office supplies; and Wrap Star, the UAE’s only gift wrapping competition, won this year by Maria Fatima from Harvey Nichols. Second and third places went to Jayann Rafael and Rejoice Marayag respectively, who both represented Kiddy Zone.
A two-day seminar programme was also introduced on the final two days of the exhibition, where industry professionals were kept up-to-date on the latest trends including a special focus on the Africa, and an overview of the Middle East office print market.
The 9th edition of Paperworld Middle East will return in March 2019, offering another one-stop-shop for trade buyers and professionals sourcing inspiration and the latest industry supplies, from office supplies, leather goods, corporate gifts, school articles, toys and games, creative materials and party supplies. More information is available at www.paperworldme.com.