Big Show success proves Oman a growing hub for mega events

Business Saturday 02/April/2016 17:46 PM
By: Times News Service
Big Show success proves Oman a growing hub for mega events

Muscat: Oman has started making its presence felt as an attractive destination for events and exhibitions and the recently concluded ‘The Big Show 2016’ was a testament to the international exhibitors' interest in the Omani market.
As the estimated $8.5 trillion global construction industry is expected to experience growth, reaching a projected $10.3 trillion by 2020, building and construction sector has much to smile about. As a result, the associated industries like the big exhibition business continue to grow at a healthy rate, particularly in the Middle East and Africa region.
While the UAE, South Africa and Iran have remained traditional giants of the exhibition industry in the region, other countries have also raised their profile as competitive trade activity centres in the Gulf.
While most of the big exhibitions are held at the sprawling 12,000 square metres Oman International Exhibition Centre, the Sultanate will become a major destination for global events and exhibitions when the sprawling new Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) starts operations later this year. Featuring a auditorium seating over 3,000 people, OCEC offers more than 22,000 square metres of column-free exhibition space, among the largest in the region.
Organised by OmanExpo, leading exhibition firm in the country, The Big Show 2016 drew many countries' interest who set up pavilions showcasing their products, technology and services. Most of the companies approached were quite happy with the response they were getting from Omani companies and customers.
Fehmi Ouaja, exhibition manager, The Big Show, was pleased at the flurry of trade activity taking place at the show. Visiting various stalls and pavilions, he was in constant touch with the exhibitors as well as the visiting delegations and dignitaries.
Leading an Indonesian trade promotion delegation that visited the exhibition on Wednesday, Nus Nuzulia Ishak, director general, Directorate General of National Export Development, Indonesia, was visibly impressed.
"We are here in Oman with a view to exploring ways to improve our trade relations with the Sultanate. We are very keen to enhance our industrial and building material exports to the Middle East. Events like The BIG Show can be quite helpful in achieving such objectives. During my visit to this exhibition, I have not seen any pavilion from the Asean countries. We will look into the possibility of bringing Indonesian companies to this event next year," she said.
As many as 350 exhibitors from 15 countries set up their shops at the biggest building and construction show in Oman, showcasing a range of products including ceramics, marble, stone, cement, concrete, interior design, kitchen, bathroom, doors, windows, swimming pools and spa. Seven countries which set up their own pavilions included India, Kuwait, Germany, Turkey, Iran, China and Egypt.
Indian pavilion was the most conspicuous with the largest presence, bringing in 25 companies to Oman under the umbrella of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), an apex trade promotion body setup by the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India to promote India's International trade. FIEO represents small, medium and large scale exporting units spread on pan India basis and today boasts a direct membership of over 22000 companies representing every product and service sector of India.
Talking to ‘Times of Oman’, Mohit Hans, management executive of FIEO, said that the Sultanate was a strategic partner for India in the Gulf and an important interlocutor in the bilateral, AGCC, Arab League and IORA contexts. He said Oman also accorded a high priority to its ties with India.
"Oman is an attractive market and is India's largest trade and Investment partner with exports of $2.37 billion in the year 2014-15. Especially, Oman's construction industry foresees healthy growth driven mainly by government investment in infrastructure, as evidenced by the robust pipeline of large-scale construction projects and tenders being awarded to Oman construction companies and foreign contractors," he added.
"With this objective, we have come to participate in The Big Show 2016, which is a renowned mega exhibition, with Indian companies representing this sector so that Omani buyers can consider sourcing quality Indian products," Mohit explained.
Quite prominent among the Turkish companies at The Big Show was Aspen, the building materials giant contracted to work at the new Muscat airport.
"It's a good exhibition that has the potential to be even bigger," said Cem Karadag, export sales director of Aspen, which is doing metal ceiling work at new Muscat airport. The company is known to prove high quality solutions to all interior dimensions through its extensive range of products.
Another noticeable pavilion, perhaps the second largest, was that of Kuwait with as many as 18 companies setting up their stalls. A Kuwaiti company executive was all smiles upon getting positive response and instantly finding a distributor of its products in Oman.
"We export our products to most of the Middle East countries except Oman, which brings us to this wonderful country. We got the opportunity to exhibit here at The Big Show and we are quite happy with the response so far. People have shown interest in our products and Abu Zaki is going to be the distributor of our products in Oman," said Hussein Al Allani, marketing manager of Aquasan, an ISO certified company that manufactures ceramics sanitary ware in Kuwait.
One of the most eye-catching stalls at the exhibition was that of Jaquar, the leading Indian brand that provides multi-diversifies bathing solutions.
"We have come to the BIG Show for the first time. It's a very good platform for business and B2B sales are happening. There is a good flow of customers, genuine customers, and we are able to meet the end user and the decision makers," said Sunil Kumar Palayil, deputy manager, Jaquar Middle East.
The big German pavilion was another centre of attraction at the exhibition due to the cutting edge technology and high quality products on display. Among the most prominent was Topwerk Group for its state-of-the-art concrete block making machinery.
"This is the sixth consecutive year we have come to participate in the Big Show and so far we have sold 10 machines here. We find this a good platform to meet people from other countries for business and trade. There are 11 German companies and 16 Iranian companies exhibiting here. Oman is a very good place to meet people and explore business opportunities," said Michael Deissing, sales manager, Topwerk, leading German company manufacturing machines and equipment for the building material industry.
Impressed by the activity taking place at the show, Francesca Vitetta, an official of Vicenza chamber of commerce, said she had already proposed to The BIG show organisers to have an Italian pavilion at its 2017 edition.
"We are taking 60 Italian companies, 12 from my region which is Vicenza, the capital of Venice, to Tehran later this month. I am organising a lot of events in the Gulf and would be very keen to bring Italian companies in Oman. We find this country can be a great place for niche Italian products. Oman has the right kind of weather for us to manufacture our products here," added the Italian trade official.
She urged Oman Air to start direct flight from Muscat to Venice not only to facilitate trade but invite her region's interest in Oman.
Moin Khaleghi, planning and project controller at HSP International Group, leading Iranian organiser of trade exhibitions and conference, said he was extremely pleased to see so much activity at The Big Show.
"We will encourage more Iranian companies to take part in the future editions of this event. Iran has quality brands in cement and stone used in the construction and home decor industry and exhibitions like The Big Show can go a long way in promoting trade cooperation, leading to increase in exports," Moin added.