Trade has for long been the lifeblood of the UAE economy, with sailors and traders playing important roles in making the country the undisputed commercial and logistical hub of the wider Middle East. Fast-growing economies in the neighbourhood, coupled with increasing commercial and logistical links, has spurred demand for further growth of the materials handling and logistics sectors in the country.
The region’s international freight demand is also expected to grow 8.1 per cent during the year as freight links to and via the region continue to develop. All these developments are expected to be reflected in the leading regional trade event, Materials Handling Middle East 2011 taking place in Dubai in September.
“Excellent logistics and ease of movement of goods are fundamentals to the growth of a city as a commercial and business hub,” said Ahmed Pauwels, Chief Executive Officer of organiser, Epoc Messe Frankfurt. “These have been a fundamental part of the UAE growth story, with businesses preferring to base themselves here in order to better access markets around the region, thanks to the leadership’s farsightedness in establishing state-of-the-art transportation facilities and communication links here. Trade fair Materials Handling Middle East will highlight the latest trends and developments in this key sector and give new entrants to this promising market a key foothold into the region,” he added.
Significantly, Dubai Ports World recently announced that growth in container traffic in 2011 has continued the sustained growth that it achieved in 2010, with gross volume in Q1, 2011 up by 12% at 12.6 million TEU across its 49 terminals. The addition of a containerization section at this year’s edition of Materials Handling Middle East is a reflection of this emerging trend.
As trade continues unhindered across the wider MENA region, demand for better transportation and logistical links has led to a vast increase in air and sea cargo handling capacity. According to recent estimates, Dubai Ports Authority is expected to boost its handling capacity to 55 million TEU by 2030 while Dubai International Airport is slated to reach 4.1 million tonnes of cargo volumes by 2020.
Chrys Mendonca, Vice President, Cargo for Airlink, one of the prominent exhibitors at Materials Handling Middle East, said: "Airlink services cover General Freight Forwarding, Third Party Logistics, Exhibition/Sport Logistics and Project Logistics which enables them to handle large volumes of freight yearly by air, sea or even by road, making it one of the region’s largest logistics providers. For us, Materials Handling Middle East represents a platform to reach out to the emerging markets in the region and helps support our regional expansion plans. We expect that it will present great opportunities for reinforcing our brand in what is an increasingly competitive market."
New investments in the Dubai World Central airport in Jebel Ali, which is estimated at US$10 billion and new airport and cargo handling facilities around the region are also expected to boost the regional logistics capabilities tremendously. Overall, there is US$90 billion worth of investments in airport projects across the GCC.
Materials Handling Middle East, which attracted over 175 exhibitors from 27 countries in its last run in 2009, is already attracting much interest from industry players looking to tap into this growing market. The trade fair and conference will be held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre from September 25th to 27th this year.