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Sharif Rahman, CEO, IEC, gives an open talk to Venkat Raghavan, assistant editor of PrintWeek MEA.

Volumes have become shorter and shorter, publishers and advertisers are looking to attract dedicated groups of people, so in which way the event would be helpful for the visitors and exhibitors?

SGI Dubai has been a good partner for advertisers and publishers. While the market situation has caused some organisations to cut down on spends, it has also made many organisations invest strategically in ways to improve their business outcome. For example, print media has been engulfed by the digital media to some extent in publishing but in advertising, marketers know the importance of the written word and how to strategically utilise it to achieve sales.

The best way to counter-balance decreasing volumes is to increase your target audience, reach out to demographics that were beyond your scope. SGI Dubai 2019 would be the perfect way to reach out to your audience in the greater MENA region.

Due to heavy competition the margins went down that enforce many print shops go to the new market niches. So what is your opinion on this?

Competition that sustains on margin cuts isn’t sustainable. In the end, those with fatter wallets will survive. To be able to survive competition a print shop needs to innovate and rise from the clutter to distinguish itself from the rest. Reaching out to new market niche is one such way. Participating in SGI Dubai can help the exhibitors to expose their brand and business to a new market that may have not been accessible to them before.

Do you think that the printers/brands have to adapt to the latest technologies? How to stay in front and embrace the change?

The printing industry like any other business must adapt itself to the evolving technology and what it has to offer. And not just technology the industry must respond to the current trends that are visible in the market.

For print shops to stay relevant, they need to make capital investments in the latest machines that serve their customer’s purpose.

What different ideas you are planning to bring in the coming edition?

We would like to keep that as a surprise. However, with regard to the show we are looking at a growth in LED, Textile, Retail, Digital signage and several other segments within the show.

Do you think that Sign, graphics, and visual-communications companies have unlimited opportunities to decide what and how they want to print?

Signage and specifically digital signage have huge opportunities in the region. The consumer consumption pattern for digital media has grown rapidly here and marketers are looking at fully optimising their communications to stay ahead of the pack. That’s not to say that print communications have mellowed down completely.

Companies are looking at finding the right balance of print and digital media to attract customers to their brands. This provides the signage and graphics companies with a huge potential for business.

What was the outcome of the last edition and have you changed your approach after getting the feedback from the industry?

We have a dedicated feedback system in place that is fitting appropriately into the event, during and once it gets over. We have had positive feedback from the exhibitors and the visitors and also constructive feedback with regard to our show.  We are operating here for the last twenty two years and we have learnt from each show and we will be continuing to do the same in the upcoming years.  We always value the feedback  which we receive from our global, regional and international exhibitors and incorporate their valuable feedback always to further strengthen our show.

What do you think about the overall Middle East and Africa market and where it will be heading in the coming years?

The experts for the printing industry are optimistic about the Middle East market. Smithers Pira data expects the market to touch $54.0 billion in 2022. With Expo 2020 Dubai in the pipeline, the whole industry is looking eagerly to reap its benefits.