Paperworld Middle East opens its doors in Dubai

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Picture used for illustrative purpose only.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

Sheikh Hasher Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, Director-General of Dubai Department of Information, officially inaugurated the 11th edition of Paperworld Middle East and the co-located Gifts & Lifestyle Middle East at Dubai World Trade Centre on Tuesday.

During the tour, Sheikh Hasher spoke with some of the industry’s biggest players, including Ittihad Paper Mill, Hoshan Pan Gulf, Crystal Arc Factory, Al Jarir Group and Navigator Paper, as well as looking through international pavilions from South Africa, Germany, and Turkey.

Running until Thursday, November 17, the dual events this year have a strong focus on products made from sustainable, ethical resources, as well as top-level industry content running throughout the first two days by way of The Hub Forum.

Returning for a second consecutive year, The Hub Forum is one of the region’s leading platforms. Uniting industry experts, thought-leaders, analysts, and leading industry players in e-commerce, digital, and sustainable trends, they will be discussing the way forward for the paper, stationery, office supply and gift industry.

During the opening keynote, Salem Abedin, Head of Commercial, E-commerce Division at DP World, discussed the latest supporting factors that are driving B2B trade in the MENA region, including smartphone B2B e-commerce, omnichannel strategies to ensure client expectations are always met, a growth in O-2-O-2-O – or online-to-offline-to-online – and the concept of business-to-everyone, also known as B2E.

“At DP World, we are constantly building a flexible and interoperable e-commerce architecture to support the complexities of the sector,” he said. “We’re developing solutions to deal with several challenges, such as larger order quantities, variable prices, more products, and tighter delivery deadlines – all of which put a strain on existing supply chains.

“Yet it is through partnerships, collaborations, and sharing of ideas that a real difference can be made. Events such as these are pivotal in changing the landscape of trade and e-commerce in our region and across the world.”

Also speaking as part of the morning sessions was Vibhor Khandelwal, Vice President – Commercial at Noon, who detailed the evolution of the Middle East’s e-commerce market during a panel discussion focused on a post-pandemic boom and digital transformation.

“When I started working with Souq in back in 2013, the market wasn’t matured in terms of an ecosystem,” he said. “The categories were dominated by two to three players, but since then, we have seen this grow to 15-20. Going digital is a key component of growth in our industry and allows for quick growth.

“The pandemic accelerated the outdoor and kids’ gifting sectors, and we had a lot of storefront sellers come to us to shift their offerings to digital. The current e-commerce penetration in the Middle East sits at around 12 per cent compared to the west, where it is up at 20 per cent. Where the Middle East is leading is electronics and mobiles, where we sit at 50 per cent penetration. It also isn’t down to price here in the Middle East either, consumers are more interested in receiving products as quickly as possible, so we have witnessed an increase in what we now call quick commerce, or ‘Q-Commerce’ as it is called in the industry.”

The dual events are this year hosting 316 exhibitors from more than 40 countries, an increase of 68 per cent on last year’s events. For international participation, there are nine country pavilions from Germany, Turkey, China, Hong Kong, Lithuania, Russia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and the UK.

Returning to Paperworld Middle East this year is the German pavilion, whose exhibitors are focused on sustainable products. Herma, a global supplier of customised labels, launched recyclable paper a couple of years ago but is currently seeing increasing demand for it as consumers become more environmentally conscious. Another exhibitor, Schneider, is showcasing a new range of markers, including their refillable ‘Twinmarker’ made from 92% recycled plastic, saving 79% CO2 emissions by using recycled as compared to conventional plastic.

Another returning pavilion this year at Gifts and Lifestyle Middle East is South Africa hosting several exhibitors focusing on leather textiles and goods from female-owned businesses. Majda Rabin, the owner of Chimpel, which she founded in 2009, is showcasing a limited run of luxury leather handbags created from different coloured leathers. Another exhibitor, Ichume, has a line of products inspired by the vibrancy and vigour of the women of their continent. According to the pavilion organisers, South Africa is one of the upcoming markets for wholesale leather goods due to its government grants for machinery, existing infrastructure, and speed delivery.

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