Trade Exhibitions: THE PROS & CONS [Archives:1999/01/Business & Economy]

January 4 1999

Exhibitions are excellent chances for businessmen to market their goods, and sometimes to launch new brands. The public jumps on the opportunity by buying a lot of things from exhibitions, as there is often a price mark-down. Thus, exhibitions seem to offer a win-win situation for both sides. But is it really the case? Does the Yemeni experience support such a conclusion?
To assess this matter, I had to do considerable leg-work on exhibitions in Sanaa, Aden and Taiz. I also talked to the major organizers of exhibition. Finally, of course, I spoke to the public.
Given the free market policy of Yemen, exhibitions are more and more becoming the common language between buyers and sellers – both foreign and local. Advertisements are also playing a rising role in giving consumers the right to choose from among different goods and products, at variable price ranges.
Exhibitions are not new to Yemen, though not in the present format. There is an open market system in each region of the country on a weekly basis. In the open market system, producers bring their products in one large showroom, and consumers exercise their preferences. The weekly fantasia of wheeling and dealing is a regular experience for most Yemenis.
Today, of course, exhibitions of products are more structured. One can speak of two basic levels of exhibitions – temporary and permanent. Temporary exhibitions are held for periods ranging from one week to a full month, and they usually involve foreign sellers. Examples are the Iranian Exhibition, Egyptian Exhibition, Saudi Exhibition, etc.
Then there are the permanent exhibitions. These large halls in which local and foreign goods are displayed. More are constructed in the country.
The government has encouraged the rise of both kinds of exhibitions. It provides facilities and tax breaks, as well as through the participation of senior officials in the launch ceremonies.
What the Organizers Say:

1) Nabil Sa’eed Al-Ghanem,
General Manager, Al-Ghanem Trade & Investment Corporation
“The main objective of exhibitions is to meet the needs of consumers at affordable prices. They are a big opportunity to provide citizens goods of all kinds at one place.
Since local output cannot cover all needs, there are imported commodities sold at competitive low price. Most of the goods we handle are for basic consumption. Nowadays, demand for nutrition and food products has increased rapidly. Public response has been extremely gratifying. Every day, thousands come to the exhibition to purchase goods.”
2) Abdul-Latif Amer Ahmed Amer
Deputy General Manager,
Al-Kumaim Trading Center
“The most important aim of the Kumaim Trading Center (KTC) is to make all goods available to consumers in one place. Local and foreign goods are available. Generally speaking, we sell consumer products. But we also carry household equipment, jewelry, perfumries, cosmetics, etc.
Spending the day at KTC is an enjoyable experience. Our center has facilities such as a mosque, toilets, a buffet for light food and juices, and a restaurant.
Exhibitions are a good way to foster relations among nations. They bring peoples, experiences and products together. We are learning new ways in production, marketing, ware-housing, etc., from our foreign partners.
3) Hussein Shumeilah,
Shumeilah Trading Corporation, (Shumeilah Marketplace)
“The purpose of our exhibition is to give traders the opportunity to rub shoulders “first hand” with the public. This way, they are able to measure feedback and responses regarding their products. They can get a clearer view of public acceptance of new products. Finally, they can compare their performance with those of competitors.
Another purpose is to give the consumer – all under roof – the convenience of a wide choice, getting the best bargains. While the general concept of exhibitions in Yemen is consumer retail events, we promote international trade exhibitions. Initially we concentrated on products that were urgently needed in Yemen, without regard to the benefits to the economy. We looked at Yemen as a market. But, now we are trying to combine trade with investments.
The calendar of events for 1999 reflects a wide range of activities including the Yemen International Trade Exhibition for 99 in which we participate. The YITE99 is a general trade exhibition, which will be the first ever to be held in Yemen, and I am sure it will be a great success.
The idea received tremendous response and encouragement. It will bring together participants from over 10 countries. The event will take place on an area of over 4000 square-meters making it the biggest exhibition event in Yemen. We expect it will set the trend of more such events to follow.
The reason for organizing the YITE99 is that it is time for Yemen to host such major events as our economy has great potential. We can become a major trading center in the region given our potential.
This event will benefit our country’s economy by bringing in foreign currencies, encouraging international companies to establish trading houses in Yemen, and by creating more jobs.
4) Omar Al-Nihmi,
Apollo-Sanaa Expo-Center
The objective of specialized international exhibitions is to provide adequate information to the public. What that means is that your provide different brands and different producers/sellers of the same product to the buyer. This offers more options and it enable the customer to really be king.
We have had some local shows with Arab participation, like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. Other exhibitions usually take place at least once every season. Such exhibitions guide you to the newest available goods and equipment in various fields such as medical treatment, cars, agricultural tools, etc.
The Sanaa Expo-Center matches between customers’ tastes and wider choices of products. As leaders in the field, we have to keep attracting visitors by providing more and better services at lower costs.
As you know, exhibitions revive the International economy and activate the trade exchange between Yemen and the world. Our target is to satisfy our customers. One major way to do this is to give buyer more options in terms of brands and prices.
About 8,000 visitors daily visit our exhibition to capitalize on the price discounts. Since competition among businessmen is high, the prices inside Sanaa Expo-Center are usually lower than the market outside.
We work closely with the Ministry of Trade and Supply, the Ministry Industry, foreign businessmen, local traders, and other participants.
Finally, exhibitions are really like a door or bridge to strengthen economic ties and consolidate relations between countries.
One way to contribute towards full integration of the economy of the Republic of Yemen with the world is through trade fairs. With the Government’s continuous support, there is a chance for foreign and local investors to build up bridges linking Yemen with the world through trade exhibitions.
By: Ghassan Al-Ahdal,
Yemen Times