Qatar is hosting the annual Ship & Port exhibition once again this year, showcasing the country's growing stature in the global maritime industry, explains Satish Khanna, general manager, Al Fajer Information & Services.
Al Fajer organises a number of trade events for different industries in the Middle East. What role does the maritime sector play in your events calendar?
We share a historical relationship with the maritime sector in the Middle East.
This has been developed over the years and is centred on the success of our annual Ship & Port event, which was inaugurated in Dubai three years ago and shifted to Qatar last year.
The event has proved a huge success and I believe it's helped to revolutionise the Middle East's maritime sector.
To continue this momentum, we have recently partnered with Ahoy Rotterdam and renamed the event Ship & Port + Europort Maritime 2008.
It will be held at the brand new Qatar International Exhibition Centre in Doha from 5th May to 7th May 2008. The expo is being organised under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Hamad bin Suhaim Al Thani, minister of state for Qatar's government.
What makes this event so important to the Middle East's maritime sector?
Ship & Port + Europort Maritime 2008 will provide an ideal platform for companies to strike lucrative deals and discover some of the latest solutions to help them overcome the typical challenges that are facing maritime professionals.
During the past editions, the event has attracted a really broad selection of professionals from the entire industry, with delegates covering the various different sub-sectors that are found within the regional maritime industry.
What are the key attractions for the Ship & Port event this year?
The major attraction this year is the involvement of Europort Maritime. Partnered by two big industry forces, Ship & Port + Europort Maritime 2008 sets a precedent for showcasing the latest in products and services related to the flourishing maritime industry in the Middle East and Asia.
In addition, the Central Dredging Association (CEDA) is holding its first ever conference and exhibition in Asia in concurrence to Ship & Port + Europort Maritime in 2008. CEDA is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental, professional society.
It provides a forum for all those involved in activities related to dredging and who live or work in Europe, Africa or the Middle East.
Why has Qatar been selected as the venue for this event in 2008?
Qatar is a major player in both the regional and international maritime industry and its status will only strengthen in the future. For example, the country is set to become the largest liquefied natural gas producer in the world.
Ras Laffan Industrial City, situated on the northeast coast, has grown into a thriving energy related industrial base in a very short time.
The energy produced here will have to be transported in specially strengthened ships to users spread across the globe.
This demand has lead to global maritime industry players flocking to Qatar and we believe Ship & Port + Europort Maritime will provide the right impetus to the industry's development.
Can Qatar successfully compete with Dubai as a regional hub for the sea freight sector?
To be honest, I genuinely don't believe that Qatar is competing with Dubai. The country is actually creating its own standards and moving ahead in a very distinct manner, compared to other parts of the Middle East.
What response have you received towards this year's Ship & Port event from the maritime industry?
The response for this year's event has been overwhelming to say the least, with over 96.6% of the previous year's participants already confirmed for a repeat involvement.
The show will offer an excellent opportunity to encourage the growth of the maritime industry in Qatar and the Middle East region, where major multi-billion dollar maritime projects are under way.
In terms of attendees and exhibitors, what types of companies are being targeted for this event?
During the past editions, the event has been able to attract a whole gamut of visitors including equipment suppliers, ship owners and professionals belonging to the industry.
Leading officials from the region's marine fishing industry, shipyards, harbours and port authorities, shipping and trading firms have also been amongst the attendees. With the involvement of Europort Maritime, we only expect the positive trend to continue.