Exhibitors Display Range of Thinking on MEBA’s New Home

 - January 3, 2013, 2:12 AM

From the gauntlet of stands that greeted visitors, to displays tucked into corners of the almost finished economy airline terminal that served as MEBA 2012’s exhibition hall, on the event’s last day exhibitors expressed a range of opinions about the show as varied as their display locations.

“I don’t think we’ve ever been busier, said Dave Edwards, managing director, Middle East and Asia, Gama Aviation, at the Dubai-based aviation services provider’s stand just inside the entrance, a spot impossible for attendees to miss.

Off to a side of the expansive main exhibition area, Jamshaid Ul Haq, a senior manager at UK ground service equipment provider TDH Visions, was “not really happy” with the show’s move from Dubai International to its new site, Maktoum International Airport. “For clients, most said they can’t quickly come and go,” he said, resulting in a slow show for the company.

Indeed, several exhibitors mentioned the isolated location, extended commute or cab drivers ignorant of the airport’s location or active status among their first comments.

“We’re out in the middle of the desert,” said Tom Coggin, UK managing director of engine care provider JSSI, a view as widely stated as was the declaration that, nonetheless, the show had been successful for his company.

At Italian FBO chain Argos VIP’s booth, Laurie Marie, of the commercial department, put the event in the context of the overall Emirate experience. “MEBA has to present the magnificence of Dubai,” she said. “If you put the show in the desert, it’s not very spectacular.” Most of Argos’s clients were exhibiting at the show, making reaching out to its core customers easy.

At London’s Harrods Aviation stand, Will Holroyd, sales and marketing director, proclaimed the show “very successful” and said the company is “happy with the footfall.” However, he noted that the exhibition’s layout (complicated by a lack of visible booth numbering or awareness among booth staffers) made locating stands with lesser visibility “challenging.” “I’m sorry for some of the visitors,” he said. “It’s not easy to find people.”

With only one restaurant on site, finding food was also a challenge. “I’m not able to find any food shops,” said Nadeem Kahn, planning engineer at UAE’s Dana Executive Jets. “There’s no food court.”

Among the many positive comments, the show attracted a “good quality of visitor,” said Jag Kambo, event director of the UK’s UKIP Media & Events. Others said “The staff has been fantastic,” praised the open parking lot outside the terminal as “one-of-a-kind,” and echoed the sentiment that “We’ll definitely be back in two years.” The dedicated exhibition facility scheduled to be operational by then should eliminate many of the miscues remarked upon this year. As for the show’s location “in the middle of nowhere,” Jack Olcott, former NBAA president and an old hand in Middle East business and aviation circles, had the last word: “Wait five years.”