The UAE-based Al Fajer Information and Services has been organising fairs and exhibitions since 1975 with an objective to connect the world of business. We host a series of shows not only in Dubai but also in Africa. Our specialised exhibitions in the pipeline for 2013 in Dubai are plenty including Paper Arabia and International Autumn Trade Fair. Our trade fairs have registered a growth of more than 30 per cent in the 2012 editions and we regard this as a huge success that ensures future business development. This was revealed by Satish Khanna, General Manager, Al Fajer Information and Services, during an exclusive interview with Inayat-ur-Rahman.
Q: First of all, let me congratulate you on hosting a highly successful exhibition Arabplast 2013. Can you briefly explain the concept behind Al Fajer Information and Services and its contribution to UAE’s economy?
A: Thank you so much! Founded in 1975, our company nurtured fairs and exhibitions with an objective to connect the world of business.
Since its inception, the company has made a substantial contribution to the exhibition industry by organising international trade fairs in Dubai—the busiest trading and the re-export centre of the Middle East.
An acclaimed position in Dubai has led us into the global market, and international affiliations with UFI (France), OCTANORM Vertreibs GmbH, (Germany), Messe Duesseldorf (Germany), Messe Munich/IMAG (Germany), and Ahoy Rotterdam (Netherlands), Meserlli, (Switzerland), have boosted the company to achieve an unparalleled position in organising international fairs, both in the specialised and general sectors.
We also excel in exhibition stand construction and display solutions and have to their credit listing most of the leading international companies. Our five divisions viz. Fairs & Exhibitions, International Exhibit Builders, OCTANORM Vertreibs GmbH, Germany, Display & Shopfitting and Design & Graphics have branded the company as a complete exhibition solution company, trusted by business communities.
We are a multi-faceted trade fair organisation with over four decades of trade fair experience and expertise and provide a complete range of exhibition organisation, management and services through our five divisions.
Q: Please mention the exact number of exhibitors and visitors at the recently concluded exhibition in Dubai. How many business deals were signed?
A: The value of machinery deals at Arabplast 2013 exhibition crossed $3 billion. The show attracted a record number of 30,000 visitors in four days.
Arabplast 2013 was 34 per cent bigger than the 2011 edition, following greater response from exhibitors and sponsors.
A record number of 900 companies from 41 countries have participated at the show.
We are planning to increase the number of exhibitors to 1,000 from 48 countries in our upcoming exhibition, which will be held in January, 2015 in Dubai.
Q: Most of the exhibitors were upbeat and optimistic about this year’s show, but they are demanding more innovative expos in future. Do you have any plans for that?
A: Good question! Basically our strategy is a progressive mix of innovation and feasibility. Being an innovation driven company, we believe that less innovated trade fair organisers will lose the battle in the near future so we always challenge ourselves to add an innovative element to our shows—some of them goes back to more than three decades.
As you may notice every edition of any exhibition we hold has its own flavour and approach. We also expect our exhibitors to be as innovative as we firmly believe that innovation is a two way street between trade fair organisers and exhibitors as well as we believe that there is a great role to be played by national pavilions to pass on an innovation approach to their exhibitors.
Q: K Show hailed Arabplast’s growth. Are you planning to attend their upcoming show in Germany to drum up support for your exhibitions ahead?
A: We were pleased that an update about K Show, which is regarded the mother of the plastics exhibitions in the world, was held on the second day of Arabplast 2013. This speaks volumes about the leading position of Arabplast in the global stage of plastics.
There is great collaboration between us and Messe Dusseldorf GmbH, organisers of K Show which was translated in this tremendous success of Arabplast that proved to become one of the top three plastics exhibitions in the world and number one as far as the value of machineries were displayed.
Q: Arabplast 2013 concludes on a worthy note, Does your firm plan to organise more exhibitions in the UAE and abroad this year?
A: Organising shows is our bread and butter since the inception of the company in 1975. We organise a series of shows not only in Dubai but also in Africa.
Our shows in the pipeline for 2013 in Dubai are plenty including Paper Arabia and International Autumn Trade Fair. We anticipate great success to these two shows in their upcoming editions.
Q: How does your company manage to weather the global downturn in other parts of the world and how do you weigh the situation in the market? Do you face any hurdles in hosting the exhibitions?
A: Dubai is back to the international stage. The economy has fully recovered and as it is said: “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!”.
The economy is stronger now and private sector has earned more experience from the global downturn, they learnt it the tough way and I believe that we are immune now from any possible downturn that might happen specially a European one. We don’t face concrete hurdles in hosting our shows as we have the “know who” and “know how” that give us the right tools to overcome any hurdles.
Q: Due to global recession most companies have stopped hiring while a majority of them are firing workers. So what is your emphasis on: hiring or firing?
A: Since day one of incepting Al Fajer, we believe in having the right people in the bus. We come from a management school that hires people based on factual demand. We also train and equip our teams to prepare them to handle new challenges and responsibilities. We identify the roles and responsibilities very meticulously to ensure high ROI across all our unit businesses.
Q: Tell us about the company’s strategic vision that has been steering it ahead successfully for the last many years. Is that vision still the company’s driving force?
A: Our vision is to become one of the world’s leading fair organisers and I believe that we are doing a great work through our expansion to other markets in Africa and our strategic partnerships with leading like-minded companies in Europe and Asia.
Q: How do you see competition in the market, taking into consideration that there are many companies offering similar services as yours?
A: The competition is healthy. As long as we compete in offering our customers a better service, we are excelling and raising the bar of the industry which will benefit all the big players in the market and shortlist the non-qualified ones.
Q: What are the financial projections of your firm in future? Can you briefly explain your company’s growth for 2012?
A: Our growth in Al Fajer Information and Services stems from the growth of our exhibitions. Our shows have all registered a growth of more than 30 per cent in the 2012 editions compared with the previous editions and we regard this as a huge success that ensures future business development.
Q: As GM of Al Fajer Information and Services what is your message to foreigners wishing to invest in the UAE?
A: My message is simple, this country offers you a unique investment environment found nowhere else backed with a wide range of facilities offered by the government so grab this generous opportunity and invest in the UAE that could be a major headquarters of all your operations in the Middle East and Africa.