By Aaron Greenwood
This month's PALME exhibition in Dubai will offer key insights into the economic health of the Middle East pro audio, lighting and live event production industries. Aaron Greenwood caught up with exhibition director Alex Heuff and asked him what sort of impact wider economic issues would have on this year's show.
This month's PALME exhibition in Dubai will offer key insights into the economic health of the Middle East pro audio, lighting and live event production industries. Aaron Greenwood caught up with exhibition director Alex Heuff and asked him what sort of impact wider economic issues would have on this year's show.With tradeshows typically providing a barometer of the economic state of a particular industry sector, many pundits are eagerly awaiting the opening of PALME later this month to see what sort of impact the global economic downturn is having on the professional audio, lighting and live event production industries.
Information released to date by organiser IIR Exhibitions portends to a smaller event compared to last year, with both exhibitor numbers and floorspace down.
Exhibitions director Alex Heuff concedes "the new challenges facing the global markets and current economic climate have impacted on this year's show".
"Taking into account the new industry dynamics, floorspace has been reduced to 15,000 sqm, compared to 17,000sqm last year," he explains. "This year, we are welcoming more than 160 exhibitors representing 600 brands, compared to 200 exhibitors in 2008."
Heuff says the current climate has forced IIR to take a more creative approach to organising the event compared to previous years.
"The economic downturn has provided an opportunity to develop new ideas, introduce new features and respond to feedback received following last year's show," he says.
"This year, we have implemented an extensive marketing campaign promoting the event to a broader international audience. Indeed, an economic recession is a time when communication must prevail."
This approach has coincided with a shift in the demographic breakdown of exhibitors and delegates attending the show. According to Heuff, this year's PALME will feature fewer exhibitors from emerging territories and more from traditionally strong source markets such as the United States and Europe, reversing a trend towards the opposite which had emerged in recent years.
"In terms of source markets, the economic downturn has not followed a generic pattern," says Heuff. "While we've noticed a clear retraction in the number of exhibitors from China and Taiwan, we've enjoyed an increase from established markets such as the UK and US. In total, we've got companies from more than 25 countries exhibiting at this year's show."
PALME 2009 will once again feature three sub-exhibition components targeting unique industry sectors.
Install Middle East will showcase the latest technologies and services from local and international AV systems integration specialists, MUSAC returns with an expanded musical instrument and accessories exhibit, while Event360 will demonstrate the best the region's booming live events production sector has to offer.
Heuff claims the exhibition will host "a range of product launches, including several exciting world firsts".
"A number of exhibitors have confirmed plans with us to launch new products at the show," he says. "The exhibition will also host a number of other firsts, including a striking Lobo Laser show and an Integrators Pavilion, which will run in conjunction with the automated systems zone showcasing the latest technologies for commercial and residential AV installations."
Other firsts include a networking area on the event360 showfloor dubbed the ‘in[e]vent forum', which is open to all show delegates.
The PALME DJ competition also makes a welcome return. Now in its sixth year, the competition has proven one of PALME's most popular initiatives and has provided local aspiring DJs from across the region the chance to showcase their talents - an opportunity they would otherwise be unlikely to receive. This year's final, which will be staged on April 28, will be sponsored by Pioneer and Pacemaker.