ArabPlast 2017: The MEP Survival Guide
The important thing to remember about ArabPlast is that it is hosted by one of the most vibrant, exciting, evolving cities on the planet. Dubai is the perfect city because it has been built up exactly how a modern city is required to be built without cumbersome medieval street plans or pre-existing infrastructure on a large scale to hold any big ideas back, because of this, it is a construction and transportation paradise and plastics is one step ahead of the game providing the plastics technology to ensure innovation fit for a glittering metropolis.
Moreover, the growing population of the key business hubs of the Middle East including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Doha reflect the need for consumer goods and products across the spectrum, from food packaging to electricals. This is why ArabPlast is such an exciting event, because it reflects the pace of growth in the Middle East.
1) Take in the city
With that in mind, I would say the most important thing to remember about ArabPlast is that its home is in Dubai for a reason. Absorb the city and you'll understand what trends are driving plastics processing in the Middle East. Take it all in - it really is one of the best cities in the world to explore.
2) Don't book meetings at the very beginning of the day
ArabPlast is graced with the privilege of visiting royalty and other notable individuals and sometimes the doors of the show can be a little later to open if one of these VIPs is getting a private tour of the hall you have an appointment in.
3) Dress appropriately
Dubai is one of the smartest cities in the world and ArabPlast is one of the best dressed shows I have ever attended. Suits for gents and business attire for ladies is standard. It goes without saying that we all need to be dressed modestly but headscarves are not essential in the World Trade Centre - or indeed anywhere in commercial Dubai. Just remember to keep shoulders, midriffs and upper arms covered, but these usually are when we dress for work. As a sidebar, be careful when taking photographs, as it is prohibited to photograph local men and women without their permission - doing this by accident can get you in serious trouble.
4) Talk to people you don't know
The Middle Eastern plastics landscape is full of new companies so it's highly likely there will be a few names you've never come across. We're all guilty of migrating towards familiar faces when we're at shows, but I met so many interesting new companies at ArabPlast 2015 that I can't imagine passing up on the opportunity to strike up a conversation with somebody new this time around based purely on the fact their stand looks interesting. ArabPlast, after all, is a platform for launching business ventures so fledgling companies like to make a big impression - and visitors approaching them based on their show presence is a huge compliment.
5) Use public transport
The Dubai Metro is one of the easiest ways to get around the city. Taxis are expensive and traffic can be unpleasant so zip down the line from the World Trade Centre to the Burj Khalifa after a day at the show without so much as a flicker of irritation and immerse yourself in the light and music display at the fountains to reward yourself for a hard day's work. The ticket machines are multi-lingual and easy to use and day tickets are very good value for money.
6) Enjoy the sunshine
Dubai is blessed with year-round sunshine and make sure if (like me) you are flying from cooler climes that you soak up a little Vitamin D while you're at the show. The conference centre piazza is peppered with snack outlets with outdoor seating so there's ample opportunity for a break outside during the day. Feel it, soak it up and store it to last you a little longer if you need a sunshine kick.