Autumn 2018

Luxury Goods, Jewellery & Watches
All that Glitters…

Jewellery Arabia will showcase a wide selection of exquisite jewellery, luxury time pieces, fine writing instruments and objets d’art – all worth an estimated $1 billion

Exquisite jewellery pieces, dazzling diamond works and unique watches from well-known luxury brands will go on display at the prestigious Jewellery Arabia exhibition in Bahrain in November.

Jewellery Arabia, the largest and most prestigious exhibition of its kind in the Middle East, will open for its 27th edition on November 20. The show will be held under the patronage of His Royal Highness the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre till November 24.

The much-awaited show in the region’s luxury events calendar will showcase over 550 leading jewellers, world-famous watch brands and unique designers from across the globe. More than 50,000 visitors are expected to throng the halls of the exhibition centre.

Open free of charge to the public, Jewellery Arabia will showcase a wide selection of incredible finished jewellery, luxury time pieces, fine writing instruments, objets d’art, accessories and precious stones of every size, shape and cut – all worth an estimated $1 billion.

“Jewellery Arabia 2018 is a vibrant platform for jewellers to showcase their latest products in the dynamic Middle East market. This well-established exhibition offers consumers and trade visitors alike a once-a-year opportunity to browse the largest selection of jewellery and watches in the Middle East, stay abreast of trends, discover new designers and source one-off pieces in a unique atmosphere,” says Fawzi Al Shehabi, UBM AEM’s Director of Sales and Marketing.

The exhibition is organised by UBM AEM, which in June 2018 combined with Informa to become a leading B2B information services group and the largest B2B events organiser in the world. UBM AEM has been delivering industry-leading events in Bahrain and the Middle East for over 40 years.

Al Shehabi, who has nurtured the event from a modest beginning to what it is today, is proud of the way the show has progressed over the years.

Tracing the journey, Al Shehabi says: “Jewellery Arabia started small and has had its ups and downs over the years. We are now in a fortunate position where the show occupies all the available exhibition halls at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre and we construct our additional temporary halls. Future growth is constrained only by space at the exhibition centre.

“We hope that when the planned new exhibition centre in Bahrain comes on stream we can develop the show further. The show could grow at least 30 per cent more if space is available,” says the veteran.

For the moment, it’s a sort of a problem of plenty for the show organisers. There’s not enough room to meet the demands of the exhibitors. “It’s challenging to open up new premium areas of the show floor because most of the exhibitors re-book the same space for the next edition even before the show ends,” he says.

World-famous watch and jewellery houses will be making a return appearance at Jewellery Arabia 2018. Many of these high-profile international exhibitors will use the event as a platform to introduce exclusive collections and limited edition pieces to the Middle East collectors’ market.

Complementing these iconic brands are national groups from leading jewellery exporting countries. They include large returning delegations of the finest retailers, designers and manufacturers from Bahrain, Hong Kong, India, Lebanon, Russia, Singapore and Thailand. Collectively, these groups reflect the very best manufacturing capabilities, design expertise and gemmological resources that their respective countries have to offer.

Joining international brands and national groups are a host of designers, retailers and manufacturers from 30 countries worldwide.

Al Shehabi credits the event’s success to the tremendous support it enjoys from the Bahrain’s government. “HRH the Prime Minister has personally supported the show from its inception, and the government’s support is invaluable to us. Without their generous support, I don’t think this exhibition would have achieved what it has,” says a grateful Al Shehabi.

However, he is not worried by the growing number of shows in the region. “There’s no show like Jewellery Arabia in the region. It’s a unique exhibition and they will never be able to beat the show because we will always be different,” he says confidently.

Speaking on why the show is unique and what are its major selling points, he says: “Bahrain is a friendly country, people are very hospitable and we are next to the biggest market in the region and about 30 per cent of our visitors come from Saudi Arabia. The show is both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C).

“Qualitatively too, the show is ahead of the race as we have all international brands taking part together with many national pavilions. There are other shows which are bigger and well established in Europe. But in the region, Jewellery Arabia is something special,” he continues.

Visitors can also enjoy free-to-attend daily jewellery education seminars led by the world’s foremost authority on gemmology, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Al Shehabi says Bahrain offers one of the most efficient logistics systems in the region with exhibitors being able to bring and send back their wares quickly. “Due to the efficient system that has been put in place in the kingdom, exhibitors can ship their jewellery 72 hours prior for clearance and once the show is over, they can get their wares shipped back in 72 hours. You cannot find this ease of transaction anywhere else,” he says.

He says local distributors have also grown with the show. “Over the years, we have been able to bring many international brands to the show and these brands have in turn tied up with local distributors. Buyers prefer to buy expensive jewellery from brands that have local distributors who give them a sense of security,” Al Shehabi points out.

The veteran, who has worked tirelessly for the show’s success all these years, puts a lot of stress on marketing the show globally. “Meeting with exhibitors and prospective exhibitors is a very important part of the preparation for the show. We need to visit the clients, see what their concerns are and try to address them so they continue their participation in a sustainable way for them and for us.”

With expensive jewellery comes the concern over safety and security. The organisers have to make fool-proof arrangements against untoward incidents. “We work with government agencies in ensuring proper security is provided for the exhibition. Private security is also engaged as a further step with the latest technology, including CCTV, being employed to ward off miscreants.

“We have established a good security protocol and every single person coming must present ID, register and consent to be photographed so we have a record of those who come,” Al Shehabi adds.

He says exhibitors also have a responsibility to safely keep their precious items. They should be cautious, take precautions and not take their eyes off the jewellery placed on the tables. “We are taking various steps to create awareness among the exhibitors about measures to be taken to ensure safety at all times so miscreants do not get a chance. We also provide advice on the floor free of charge,” he says.

Though the expo is held towards the end of the year, the work is almost year-round to ensure a good, smooth show. “We start working on the next show on the last two days of the current show, rebooking with the exhibitors and then we never stop. I personally go to major shows to meet clients. It’s important to show that you are there, maintain contacts and build for the future,” he remarks.

Al Shehabi works with a team of over 20 permanent staff and when the exhibition is staged, more than 50 temporary workers are added.

“We focus on four things: First, the exhibitors and once you have the exhibitors, we have to make sure you have the visitors. You have to market the show to get the visitors and then we have to arrange the logistics in terms of security, customs, staffing, catering, etc. And finally, take feedback from the exhibitors and visitors. We take comments seriously to improve the show year after year.

“At the end of the day, we need a good show. If the business is good and if the exhibitors leave happily, we are satisfied. We are also happy that we are doing something good for the country,” he comments.

Al Shehabi says though there is much interest in the media about the sales figure, it’s not published. But he adds that the sell-out exhibition is proof that the exhibitors do good business at the show.

On the expansion of the Jewellery Arabia brand, he says the organisation ran two shows in Kuwait, but it was not viable logistically to continue. However, Jewellery Asia in Malaysia, which has already seen three editions, will continue. “We have had a good response to the show in Malaysia. There are rich buyers in Asia, who come from different parts of the region,” he says.

Speaking on the luxury market, Al Shehabi says there is a change in buying trends. “I think the young population is losing interest in big pieces. They like to buy watches and small but exquisite pieces of jewellery. However, the mothers still are interested in more traditional jewellery and that keeps the industry going. Watches are no more for time, they are pieces of jewellery.”

On the market conditions, he says he would be happy if the market remains steady. “There is money, but people are careful about spending,” he says wryly.

He admits the region has room for more local designers. “The market needs good designers in the region. There are only very few, you can count them on your fingers,” Al Shehabi concludes.

– By Sree Bhat


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