Middle East overloaded with logistics events

The Middle East will host a record number of logistics events in November, raising concerns about a regional overload.

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By  Robeel Haq Published  October 30, 2006

The Middle East will host a record number of logistics events in November, raising concerns about a regional overload in seminars and conferences. The majority of events are taking place in Dubai, which is traditionally considered the heart of the region’s logistics industry. Shows taking place in the emirate this month include the Supply Chain Executive Forum 2006, eyefortransport Middle East Summit, Trans Middle East 2006, Chemical Logistics and Supply Chain Management, and the Middle East International Commercial Vehicle Show. “The logistics industry has obviously been flagged as lucrative for event organisers,” said Professor Philbert Suresh, chief knowledge officer at TransLogistique Canada. “However, the number of industry events in November has reached shocking levels. The market is already oversaturated with such conferences and seminars, especially in Dubai.” The situation has split the opinion of the logistics industry. Whilst a considerable section seems to back Suresh’s views, event organisers believe the increasing demand for events has justified the number of seminars and conferences taking place. “Although it seems like a large number, each of the events is related to a particular aspect of supply chain management and caters to a different audience,” said Lejla Vrazalic, associate professor at the University of Wollongong in Dubai, organisers of the Supply Chain Executive Forum. “Considering Dubai’s growing reputation as the regional logistics hub, these events are critical in raising the profile of the emirate and complementing the logistics infrastructure currently being built.” Each of the shows being held in November are critically different, according to Vrazalic. People attending the Supply Chain Executive Forum, for instance, will vary from the target audience of Chemical Logistics and Supply Chain Management. “I believe we will see a larger number of focused shows in the future,” she continued. “Rather than broad logistics-related events, we will see something targeted at specific industries or different aspects of the supply chain.” Unsurprisingly, event organisers in the region are playing down the potential overkill, saying demand exists for each of November’s shows to become a potential success. “I think there will always be room for events that target different audiences within the logistics or transport industry, especially when you take into account alternative formats and styles for shows,” says Laura Goddard, event director for the eyefortransport Middle East Summit. “Trade show exhibitions, for example, do not provide the same benefits as interactive conferences, but they are both valid formats. As the industry strives to develop and improve operations, there will always be room for events that offer a platform for discussion.” Michael Proffitt, the chief executive officer of Dubai Logistics City, supports the increasing number of events taking place in the Middle East. “I think there will still be growth in this sector,” he said. “With a booming economy, growth in all sectors, and the developments of Dubai as the logistics hub, there are likely to be both general logistics events and specialised events too.” The success or failure of November’s schedule is expected to shape future activity in the region. Although Dubai’s status as the region’s logistics superhub remains intact, other countries in the Middle East are improving their transport infrastructures and creating logistics zones to attract a share of the market. This could shift the attention of future events to different locations, such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan. “I think the location is very important,” concluded Goddard. “An event targeting delegates exclusively in the Middle East might look for a country that is seen as the centre of new development, such as Saudi Arabia, where the new logistics park is attracting wide spread attention. On the other hand, an event targeting a broader international audience, needs to focus on a city that entices a crowd from further afield, which probably means Dubai. Although the geographical emphasis may shift, Dubai will always remain a crucial strategic location.”

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