In an effort to capitalise on the Gulf's passion for luxury goods and a growing regional leather industry, a new leather trade fair will drop into an already busy calendar in early May 2015 to draw in manufacturers, suppliers and buyers in an effort to capitalise on new opportunities.
The three-day Leatherworld Middle East exhibition comes as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) strategises about the global leather industry. It's estimated that leather imports and exports across the GCC was valued at $3.9 billion last year, of which the UAE is responsible for $2 billion of that figure while Saudi Arabia stands at $1.1 billion.
Dubai itself, which has 30% of the Middle East's luxury market according to consultancy firm Bain & Company, is second in the world for international retailers, after London, so organizer Epoc Messe Frankfurt saw it as the logical place for the fair, which takes place from May 4-6, 2015 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
This will be the Middle East's first dedicated trade event for the entire value chain of the global leather industry, and has already garnered support from international tannery associations. Yet questions remain on whether there will be enough of a draw outside of the region, encompassing Pakistan, Egypt and the Maghreb, to make it succeed. Key players from the US, Asia and Europe are key to this new fair's ultimate longevity, according to sources.
Yet Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Epoc Messe Frankfurt, is optimistic. "By launching Leatherworld Middle East, we are facilitating the growth of profitable relationships across the entire spectrum of leather trade," he says. "We are experiencing a considerable response from the leather trade and are expecting at least 120 exhibitors for the inaugural show."