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GPP Event Manager Talks 3D Printing And Other Updates


Gulf Print will kick off in next few days. In order to get the last minute updates about this landmark event in region’s graphic arts industry we caught up with Mike Simmonds, Gulf Print and Pack event manager to find out more about show’s latest developments. 

In this edition of Gulf Print you have included a section dedicated to 3D printing, what made you decide to do this and do you think 3D printing is important enough to be part of an established show such as Gulf Print?

3D printing is up and coming and cannot be ignored especially when you have technology giants like HP getting in on the act!

It is already here in a small capacity and is being used for blow molding, thermoforming and vacuum forming mainly for prototype packaging molds. It is something we felt that we should be looking at as it’s such a fast developing market.

There is huge interest from consumers, but the key thing for us is that market researchers are indicating that the real growth and revenue with it, will come from industrial systems where 3D printers will be used for prototyping and manufacturing in healthcare, aerospace and the automotive industries. 3D printing offers great flexibility and can also be used for short run products and product trial approvals with packaging being produced on demand.

Despite some noteworthy absences, ( Canon, HP) Gulf Print now is fully booked, does this signal that local and regional companies today are able to fill an international show such as Gulf Print and global brands, though still very important, are not the only players in our markets?

I’d say that the Middle East market is fragmented when compared to other regions and is predominately led by agents representing global names in the area. We have an excellent mix of big international, names and strong local brands and we also have parts of HP and Canon’s product line up at this year’s show through their regional partners being here. I would say it’s very indicative of the market on the whole that companies are doing business carefully so they are working with local specialists to maximize their local knowledge and expertise without having to necessarily set up shop there.

What are the major differences between organizing a show in a place like Dubai and in a European capital such as Brussels?

There really isn’t a major difference as it depends on the nature and size of the event itself. A regional event like Gulf Print & Pack is more focused on what is going on in its own back yard so its content and style is more tailored to suit that specific audience. International events, whether more mainstream or in a specialist niche will attract visitors from a much wider geographic area, so good transport links and amenities are the key there. Regardless of wherever you are holding your show, the secret is know your product, know your audience and take everything into account from customs and languages to local traditions and business etiquette.

Printing is going through some unprecedented changes which also impact the printing shows all across the world (e.g. the change in drupa cycle from 4 year to 3 years), do you think you have been able to cope with the pace of the change as far as Gulf Print is concerned? In other words have you been able to reflect this change in Gulf Print? In what way?

We’re currently a biennial event, but as we’ve not held the show yet, it’s too early to talk about strategy going forward based on what is happening in other countries or with other shows! We are unquestionably the Middle East region’s biggest and leading dedicated event for the printing industry and we will continue to shape the show around the specific needs of our local market place going forward.

There are a number of niche printing related exhibitions including SGI, and Paper Arabia that are happening in Dubai, Do you think it is a good idea to merge all these exhibitions together and come up with a mini drupa in our region?

There is so much regional disparity with individual markets moving at different rates that I think that is a difficult comparison to make. We are on different time lines and have a diverse target audience between us. It would be practical, so certainly an argument could be made for that to happen. However there has been no major desire voiced by the industry for it to actually take place.

Some exhibitors say the price of renting space in Gulf Print is high, also services are expensive, why? Is there any way that that these costs can be reduced?

We’ve actually held our rates for 2015 at 2013’s level and negotiating the best we can for our exhibitors, we are confident that our 2017 rate will again be competitive. We work really hard to get the best for our exhibitors but it is challenging when Dubai is widely regarded as being one of the best destinations to hold an event. A lack of overall space in Dubai pushes demand up and the Dubai World Trade Centre is one of the most in demand venues in the world.

You are not organizing any seminar or workshop along with the show, why is that?

We never approach each new edition of the show with a set formula in mind. Visitor feedback tells us that Gulf Print and Pack is all about seeing new technologies, networking and doing deals rather than sitting in back to back conference sessions. We always aim to keep the show as fresh, current and relevant as possible.

Some pundits believe with the advent of Internet and online technology exhibitions are gradually becoming irrelevant, what do you have to say to these people?

I’d invite them to come to the show to find out for themselves what benefits trade shows really offer their business! Gulf Print and Pack gives visitors a fantastic interactive environment for them to meet and network with clients and suppliers as well as do business there and then. It’s all about being hands on and getting up close to the latest machinery, ancillaries, software solutions, inks and materials. Visitors can make their own purchasing decisions based on what they’ve been able to see from live demonstrations and make real, informed choices on what would best suit their own business and specific client’s needs.

What are your future plans for GPP? Do you think there will be more and more digital technology rather than offset? What role packaging will play in the future of the show?

The Middle East is the world’s fourth fastest developing print market and 2015’s exhibitor line up is a good indicator of what the growth areas are and what is happening in the global and local market place.

Wide format is growing well and there is a stronger emphasis on labels and packaging this year as well as a healthy mix of flexo, digital and inkjet technologies to explore and compare. There is no such thing as a one size fits all, and Gulf Print & Pack’s varied show floor reflects the pace of development and level of innovation going on here.


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