By Andy Sambidge
Middle East seeing growth in industry as child population continues to expand.
The UAE has moved up to seventh in a world list of toy importers as the number of companies doing business in the country has surged.
Latest figures reveal that within the last year, the number of UAE toy importers has increased by almost 4,000 to 18,017 - importing nearly 100 categories of toys.
And one of the world's largest toy stores, Hamleys, has recently opened in The Dubai Mall is the latest recognition of a growing market in the emirate.
The statistics come as international toy manufacturers seek a slice of the booming regional toy industry at the Middle East Toy Fair.
Elisabeth Brehl, managing director of organisers, Epoc Messe Frankfurt, said: "This time last year, UAE was the eighth largest nation with toy import activities, but the latest market developments have boosted it to rank seventh among the top 10 toy importing countries in the world."
Figures for Jan. 1, 2004 to the present date show the US at the top of the list, followed by the UK, China, Iran, India, Hong Kong, UAE, Canada, Thailand and Australia.
Brehl added that the positive trend for the toy industry is not just limited to the UAE, but the entire Middle East is characterised by a high population of children.
Iran at number four in the list imports nine percent of toys in 388 categories, using a total of 15,849 importers.
The Middle East Toy Fair is scheduled to take place at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre from March 23-25, 2009.