Thursday 06, April 2017 by William Mullally

Sharjah’s Watches & Jewelry Show proves demand for luxury goods remains strong

An exclusive interview with His Excellency Saif Al-Mifda, CEO of Expo Centre Sharjah

Though the GCC has gone through its share of economic uncertainty in recent years, one thing is for certain: interest in high-end goods has not dissipated.

This is according to His Excellency Saif Al-Midfa, CEO of Expo Centre Sharjah, who confirmed that the event that his expo is running, the Middle East Watch and Jewellery Show has become the leading event of its kind in the region, in terms of the numbers of participating exhibitors, the volume and quality of gold pieces, jewellery and watches showcased inside, and the number of visitors from across the world.

So how big are we talking here? Al-Midfa expects the number of visitors to the show to reach 61,000. This is especially notable as it’s a 15 per cent increase from the year before.

Over 500 of the world’s leading gold, diamond, gems and pearl jewellers and the finest watchmakers participate in the current edition of the show. According to Al-Mifda, “they all agreed on the good organisation and wide presence of locals and residents of the UAE, in addition to Arab and foreign tourists that have come specifically to seize the large offers and wide variety of items that are showcased for sale at the show.”

On the ground, visitors will see a better-looking show than ever before. “This year’s exhibition is so special because we made a face lift on the show itself. The decorations we have spent quite a lot of money on—decorating the show both inside and outside. That was upgraded to a posh level,” said Al-Mifda.

To reach this larger-than-ever audience, Al-Mifda and his team used more modern methods. “Another thing is that we have approached, instead of the traditional way of advertising, we have looked more to social media to expand our network to reach the young audience. We also have a number of famous celebrities in our region invited as influencers and fashionistas, who have a huge number of people who follow them and will then come to the show. This helps people know that this is the number one show in the region.”

And for clientele, everyone is welcome at once—no segmentation. And visitors can also make purchases on the ground, something different from other shows. “This show is both B2B and B2C. We don’t make separate time for separate customers. This is open from day one. We have traders coming from all around the GCC and beyond, and people can come here and buy from the stand itself, something that other shows do not offer.“ He also added that there will be two shows this year, due to keep up to changing in exhibitor collections.

Al-Mifda does not ignore the challenges in the market, but remains optimistic about demand, “I don’t think the market is a strong as we would want it. The market is suffering a bit, but the beauty of our show is that even in the market crash of 07/08, we were worried that the luxury show would be affected, but the show was not. People continued to buy jewellery and gold, and this was surprising to us. People will still go to weddings, people will still socialise, and people will still want to wear gold. People like jewellery a lot, especially in this region, and this does not go down. Maybe some people have smaller budgets, but people save in their budget for this. This show is recession proof.”

It’s a more international show than ever before, “We have around 500 exhibitors, 55 per cent of which are international exhibitors. We’re a more international show than a regional show as a result. We have companies coming from brazil, from latin America, Singapore, and india. We have a big pavilion for Thailand, as well as local companies. It is a truly international base of exhibitors, while the consumers are themselves are regional. Most of the clients are UAE-based, while 40 per cent are from the rest of the GCC.”

To put any doubts to rest, this is indeed the biggest show in the Middle East and Africa, according to Al-Mifda. "A lot of people like to say that, but with our show, that is the truth."