Commercial printers are hopeful about their business development in the Middle East, as industry partners assemble to examine difficulties and openings in the region. The positive outlooks were shared at the inaugural event of Gulf Print and Pack Summit. Andy Thomas-Emans, strategic director, Gulf Print & Pack delivered the inauguration speech and gave some insight on the market.
Stewart Johnston, head of consultancy for Europe, Middle East and Asia of Smithers Group tended to summit delegates and said print income development in the MENA area will ascend to $40.7bn in 2022 from $28.3bn in 2017 or yearly development of 8.7%. “This development rate is far higher than the worldwide average and is driven by the region’s estimated 1,700 printers and their speculation culture the market is keen to stay up-to-date with the latest machinery and materials. It’s an approach that is working, making open doors for development that would have been unbelievable just a couple of years prior,” he included.
The summit continued with ‘The CEO panel discussion’ with four participants, Wolfram Gruening, executive director at Kimoha Entrepreneurs, Amit Radia, CEO at Atlas Printing Press, C.H. Negandhi, MD at Leo Pack, and Sebastian Lonth, GM at Rotopack. Prior Vinesh Bhimani, MD of Kimoha Entrepreneurs Ltd. was supposed to join the presentation. But he couldn’t make it because of unavoidable circumstances; so he was supplanted by Wolfram.
Wolfram Gruening, executive director at Kimoha Entrepreneurs, commented, “The industry in the Middle East is in a transition phase in terms of technology. We continue to invest in more advanced digital technologies that will help us improve not just our products, but also cost and operational efficiencies to better serve our customers.”
“We cannot walk away from print, despite the growing digitisation of many print products that many of our clients are consuming. Commercial printers just need to focus on niche areas of growth, invest in ancillary equipment and think of creative ways to provide value-added services to customers,” said Amit Radia, CEO at Atlas Printing Press.
“For our customers in Africa, for instance, we have given our clients the choice of receiving the copy or otherwise get the addition via the app we developed and we did the same for our newspaper customers,” he added.
Adrian Shuttleworth, Worldwide product manager, offset plates from Kodak, gave the next session on new technologies and application. He gave a short history of the technology behind process free plates, and the limitations preventing many printers from using them. Then he briefed about the recent innovations that will be allowing most of the printers to eliminate plate processing. His session continued further with briefing towards the history of plate making, the technology options, chemistry-free benefits, and many more.
Chris Lynch, head of production technology, Xerox Middle East & Africa and Amit Radia gave a presentation about the Digital technology. Lynch commented, “The Middle East is transforming and most of the regional governments lead by example by presenting innovative visions and setting new goals. ‘Dubai Paperless Strategy’, launched last month by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, is one of the best examples of the digital transformation revolution that is taking place.”
Chris added: “As part of the two-day event, which brings together key members and organizations from the printing industry, we will meet with commercial enterprises and print service providers (PSP) to help them understand how they can optimize their operations through innovative printing solutions that will eliminate or minimize their printing costs and material wastage – while leveraging new market opportunities as they become more digitalized.”
Nayyar Ansari, BDM at Konica Minolta Business Solutions Middle East was a presenter at the event, talking about Technical Innovation. He said, “In an order to improve turnaround time and achieve accurate results the professional print market is embracing automation and technical innovations that can also significantly reduce the overall costs. He went onto emphasize that Konica Minolta is bringing latest innovative technologies to the market including the award winning “Intelligent Quality Optimizer” that will allow professional printers to achieve automation on the run, colour management, registration, auto printer profile making, as well as auto gamma adjustment and auto density control.”
Roger Nicodeme, GM at Heidelberg Gulf Est. talked about the zero defect production. During his session he briefed on how to avoid, detect, and eliminate errors in production. He gave numerous examples on the actual scenario of the instances to make the viewers understand the importance of zero defect production. Some of the examples are over dot, white layer in the printed bar code, fonts missing in the text, and ink smudging on a particular position. He explained about the detecting errors using Prinect Inspection Control. Again, he briefed about the automatic data transfer, PDF comparison with a click, definable control areas, real time error display, and many more. Finally, he briefed the advantages of using Prinect Inspection Control 2 in the workflow and urged the importance of zero defect solutions from Heidelberg.
The Summit featured two standout panel discussions with industry experts to discuss initiatives for business expansion and how to remain competitive; as well as new technologies to modernize a printing plant and areas for investment.
Post event, Thomas-Emans commented about the outcome of the event, “We have had excellent feedback from this Summit with many requests for us to run it again.  The educational content has been extremely well received in the region. With this in mind, we are still researching with the industry and will announce after having sufficient information. We had over 300 delegates from 23 visiting countries which included UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, India, China, and United Kingdom. The outcome of the event was overwhelming with positive feedback from both exhibitors and visitors. This was the first occasion Xerox had participated in a thought leadership conference without exhibiting hardware, and the company is keen to work with us on organizing the next event in 2020, recognizing that it plays a key role in developing the knowledge level of the industry as a whole. We even had similar feedback from other exhibitors. We are currently talking with the industry about the duration of the Summit. We will announce this once we have sufficient feedback from the industry. We remain excited by the potential for growth in all types of print in the Gulf and wider MENA market. The printed products market in MENA has actually grown slightly by volume, from 2.38 trillion A4 equivalents to 2.40 trillion in the last five years, and the Gulf is at the centre of that growth in terms of a being a trans-shipment hub. The fastest-growing end use application is packaging, then advertising and labels. The packaging market if forecast by the Smithers-Pira consultancy to grow from $17.2bn in 2017 to $24.9 bn by the end of 2022.”
He further added about the Gulf market, “Saudi Arabia is the powerhouse of growth for the Gulf states, matching Turkey in the wider MENA region. The Saudi print industry is well-established, with huge market potential for digital printing. Almost three quarters of the country’s print industry is involved in packaging. The demographic of the Gulf and wider MENA region is overwhelmingly towards millennials and younger people – 70% of the region’s population is under 30 – and there is a major drive towards increasing literacy rates, education and increasing disposable income. All these factors will increase demand for printed packaging, advertising and on-demand book printing across the Gulf and MENA states. Although the global volume of print – particularly in the magazine and newspaper sector – is declining worldwide, there are still strong niches for growth, and we intend to highlight these at next year’s Gulf Print Pack show and at the next Gulf Print Pack summit in two years’ time. On-demand book printing, specialist magazines with personalized content, Children’s’ books, e-photo books, packaging and labels, are all key growth areas with opportunities we can highlight for Gulf printers. In addition, countries like Dubai are positioning themselves as trans-shipment hubs, so there will be massive opportunities for logistics labelling, while the growth of e-commerce in the region means a growth in all forms of smart track and trace and anti-counterfeiting technologies based on both QR codes and embedded smart chips interacting with consumers’ smart phones. Indeed, the prevalence of modern smart phones among Gulf consumers – younger consumers in particular – with NFC and augmented reality capabilities, opens up new opportunities for brands to interact directly with customers via printed materials of all kinds.”
Apart from this, the summit had many presentations given by participants, Chris Ellison (Thomas-Emans gave the presentation as Chris couldn’t make it) on MIS and workflow automation, Wolfram Verwuester on XXL format printing business opportunities,  Afsal Kottal on colour management, Marco Lideo on optimizing supply chain results, Shashwat Mishra on graphic lamination films, Khadija Al Bastaki on supporting logistic hubs in the UAE, Sanjay Alekar on logistics labelling and tracking technologies, Ayhan Uslu on leading anti-counterfeiting solutions, Kuldip Goel on commercial printing to flexible packaging, Samer Abdel Qader - Conventional offset to digital printing, Enayet Kabir on strategic sourcing of offset and digital,  Benjamin Daniel on brand development and positioning,  Sukhdev Singh Saini on brand development and positioning.