The event was officially opened on April 26 by HE Khalid bin Sulayem, director general of the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, and continued until April 28.
Organised by International Expo Consults (IEC) this, the 15th edition of the show, was staged as usual inside the Dubai World Trade Centre and attracted over 150 exhibitors from 30 countries. Once again the UK provided the largest contingent, fielding 25 companies. Overall visitor numbers meanwhile stood at 5,328.
Despite well-publicised delays to a number of leisure projects in the area, IEC president Abdul Rehman Falaknaz remained upbeat about prospects for the UAE and beyond: “Dubai continues to be the epicentre of the Middle East’s amusement industry,” he said. “The success of DEAL is testament to the fact that the region’s appetite for fun continues to grow, despite the global credit crisis.”
“The Middle East will always be a hub of business activity and trade,” added Rania Laing, vice-president of FEC consultancy Megatouch Middle East Entertainment. “Amusement and leisure activities meet a basic human need and DEAL is a show that tends to bring quality investors.”
“It’s great to see the show last so long,” remarked former Alain Baldacci of Interplay Parks Brazil, and a former IAAPA chairman. “Fifteen years is really a great mark and shows how solid this exhibition is. When I was chairman of IAAPA in 2002 we understood the importance of this show and this region.”
“For the Fabbri Group the Middle East represents an important resource and a window on Asia for many of our products,” remarked the Italian manufacturer’s Michele Colombari. “Despite the economic downturn, the amusement and leisure industry here is growing faster than expected and will be more important in the near future.”
Despite its heritage, DEAL has never in its history hosted a seminar programme. That was put right with this year with introduction of a one-day conference organised by Gerry Robinson of Trade Shows International/ALES-UK. Taking place on the second day, the sessions were well attended; proving that such an addition to the show was long overdue.
Supported by ALES-UK, the TEA and UK Trade & Industry, the conference tackled topics ranging from setting up a theme park to the impact of amusement games in childhood development. Speakers included Bart Dohmen of BRC Imagination Arts Europe, David Camp of ERA, Claus Frimand from Profun in Abu Dhabi and Craig Hart of Majid Al Futtiam.
Following this success of the seminars, arrangements are now in place for what will probably be a two-day programme in 2010. DEAL itself will take place next year from April 25 to 27.