Dubai, UAE: The spotlight was firmly on both the UAE’s finest gift wrapper and Dubai’s most creative, environmentally conscious school as the Middle East’s largest trade fair for the paper, office supplies, and stationery industries concluded, posting an encouraging numbers of exhibitors and trade visitors.
Paperworld Middle East 2015 drew in 6,375 trade visitors and buyers from as many as 105 different countries, underlining the growing pan-regional stature and influence. Paperworld Middle East 2015 featured 299 exhibitors from 40 countries covering 5,300sqm of exhibition space – an 18 per cent increase over 2014. The 5th edition of the three-day event was a hive of activity as local and international companies laid down the markers for regional expansion in existing and new markets.
Meanwhile, Leah Angulo Gedtal from Harvey Nichols Al Tayer Group won Paperworld Middle East’s Wrap Star contest, having wrapped her way to victory over 23 contestants from seven UAE retailers and department stores.
Gedtal was chosen as the overall winner by vote from the thousands of trade visitors at the three-day Paperworld Middle East, which took place at the Dubai international Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Now in its third year, the increasingly popular Wrap Star contest is the UAE’s only gift wrapping competition that gives local gift wrapping practitioners the chance to shine on a global stage.
“I really didn’t expect to win, because the quality of wrappers was so high,” said Gedtal. “But I think Wrap Star is a great initiative to showcase how we can make an ordinary gift turn into something beautiful and special.”
The Indian International School was also crowned champion of the Paperworld Recycling Competition for their picture collage depicting Dubai’s skyline, made entirely from recycled paper and stationery.
The inaugural competition at Paperworld Middle East featured 16 finalists out of 169 Dubai schools, and highlights the importance of recycling in schools, while also promoting the creative use of sustainable stationery.
The first-of-its kind competition was centred on the theme of ‘Dubai Life’, with the Emirate’s ubiquitous Burj Khalifa featuring prominently in most of the school finalists’ sculptures.
Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, organiser of Paperworld Middle East, commented: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the creativity of our Dubai schools and it’s an absolute pleasure to see the children take to the task of being environmentally conscious while also showcasing their artistic talents on a global stage.
“All of the 16 teams have crafted very beautiful pieces of work from used school stationery and paper that would have otherwise been thrown away.”
The Indian International School team won gift packs from Paperworld Middle East’s Launch Partner and headline exhibitor Farook International Stationery. Other major exhibitors Al Fahidi Stationery and NewBoy also donated gift packs for first runner up, German International School, and second runner up, JSS International School.
Dominating the show floor at Paperworld Middle East was the presence of 35 UAE companies, with Farook International Stationery among the leading local names displaying its range of 10 brands that are proudly made in the UAE.
Farook Rahimtulla, President of Farook International Stationery, explained how he built his manufacturing empire into a multi-million dollar business that exports 5,000 stationery stock keeping units to more than 90 countries across the globe.
“We first started in 1980 as a stationery retailer and wholesaler before setting up our own manufacturing facility in 1990,” said Rahimtulla. “Now we have ten show rooms, three factories, and a total of 21 brands – 10 of which are our own UAE-made brands.”
“Customers are surprised that we can make such high quality products at a competitive price, and we are very proud that the ‘Made in UAE’ brand has such a high value among our customers.”
Rahimtulla said that Farook International Stationery’s largest market is Africa, accounting for 65 per cent of exports, while he is still surprised as to the type of visitors he sees at Paperworld Middle East.
“We meet a lot of African customers at Paperworld Middle East, and I was even surprised to meet a customer at our stand who came all the way from Bermuda,” added Rahimtulla.
“It’s very important for us to exhibit here. Being a UAE manufacturer, we need to portray to the world that they can buy UAE brands at a reasonable price that are reliable and of high quality. My support will continue and I’m proud to be associated with the show.”
Paperworld Middle East also featured six country pavilions, including a German Pavilion that was 25 per cent larger than the previous year. High-end pen manufacturer Lamy has been exhibiting at the pavilion since the first edition of Paperworld Middle East in 2011. Deka Trading, the sole distributor for Lamy in the Middle East, said the show’s growth is in-line with the company’s own business prospects.
“It is extremely important for us to be present at Paperworld Middle East,” said Dr. Diane Farhang, CEO of Deka Trading. “We have seen the show improve every single year because it’s getting more interesting and attracting more people.
“We manufacture more than seven million pens every year, and our Middle East business has increased 27 per cent in the first two months of 2015 versus the same period in 2014. We’ve been very busy at Paperworld Middle East so we expect this strong growth to continue.”
Other features of Paperworld Middle East 2015 included the Green Office Area, a dedicated section that showcases sustainably produced essential office supplies; and Playworld, presenting regional trade buyers with the world of kids’ toys, games, and children’s lifestyle products.