Wood & Panel

Walid Farghal

 Monday, January 24, 2022

On the venue of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Woodshow, we had a chance to speak to Walid Farghal, Director General, Strategic Marketing & Exhibitions regarding the event that was launched under the banner of Woodshow and the other related industry issues.

What will be your comment on the show?

Walid Farghal: As an organiser, this is the first edition to happen in Abu Dhabi and it’s very close and special market, if you want to enter this market, you have to be here and understand the market. People here are very stable financially; Abu Dhabi was not affected by the crises of 2008, nor is it now. They are focused on the construction to make Abu Dhabi a complete city. To comment on the show, the exhibitors should be happy rather than the visitors. We did sufficient marketing campaign. Regional visitors came and that should serve the purpose of the exhibitors.

So you were not expecting international visitors much?

Walid Farghal: Most of the international visitors would be interested in number of visitors, 20 exhibitors would be disappointing for them. But for the exhibitors, they should be content as they can come into contact with the regional potential exclusive buyers. It depends on the exhibitor how he is going to market his product. People don’t hesitate to pay here, it’s a price-possessed market, unlike Dubai or Sharjah or even Mid-east market. Here people look for medium and high quality products in reasonable price. I know that complains will be that the exhibition is very small, compared to what we had planned, but this is the 1st edition and for almost any exhibition the inaugural edition works like this, if not less. We will work on their feedback and depending on the outcome we will decide the further course. I am quite optimistic of the future of the show and the potential of this market. It’s not like Dubai, it’s different, as it’s the hub of Dubai. Even in crises Dubai is progressing in business. But Abu Dhabi is a consuming market. The volume of business generated from Abu Dhabi Woodshow will reflect the market of Abu Dhabi.

We will reach 1000 visitors from the four days of the fair, we will get their feedback. Certainly the international visitors will be disappointed, but exhibitors should be happy as we have done so much of promotion for them.

You said Abu Dhabi is a very different market, how different it is from the other Emirates?

Walid Farghal: Abu Dhabi has too many projects. Abu Dhabi 2030 has big plans and great visualisation, they have the ability and I believe they can do it. Here people prefer quality above quantity.

What are the sources of wood for Abu Dhabi?

Walid Farghal: Here, softwood is used more in construction. We are importing from the US, Romania, France and from a few other countries. But the best quality is coming from Germany and France. Russia is having a problem in exporting softwood because of the weather, when they have to export they have to dry it which is again cumbersome. For us, there’s no limitation, we sometime even import from China and South East Asian countries where plantation is on work.

I recently went to Malaysia and have seen them researching drastically on Palmwood, do you think here you have a scope for it?

Walid Farghal: Here in UAE, we have a lot of palm. You can do a lot of things from the wood, you can make use of the bulk to make paper, you can use the tree to make panel. Converting the tree to energy will be a great use as oil price is going up. But UAE has the oil, but why not store the energy resource?

Back to the event, your plans for 2012.

Walid Farghal: It will depend on the feedback from the exhibitors and the visitors. From the 1000 visitors we have, 30 per cent of them belong to the machineries’ sector. They have to evaluate and decide which exhibition they want to participate.

How was Cairo Woodshow?

Walid Farghal: Its 1st edition was very very successful, it exceeded our expectation. Cairo is the biggest furniture manufacturing market and the fair did wonderful. Egypt is the biggest furniture exporter in the region and they are consuming lot of woods. Most of the wood comes from Sweden, Russia, Finland, Romania and recently some of the companies have shifted to African and American woods. With a population of 85 million, this market is equivalent to the entire mid-east and Levant market. Numerous visitors came from the nearby countries. Considering the political unrest, 45 exhibitors and 2000 visitors and the overwhelming feedback of them ensure that the fair was a huge success. We are planning for next year. The Egypt fairground is under renovation, the Cairo convention centre is fully booked. In September or in October hopefully we can sort out everything and stage the show.

So there are three woodshows from now.

Walid Farghal: There will be four Woodshows, though not officially announced, but we are planning for another show in October 2012.

Dubai Woodshow, what are the upcoming things we are going to experience?

Walid Farghal: There will be an Indonesian pavilion. We’re trying to get some African companies, from Congo, from Cameroon, from South Africa etc. In machineries sector, we have SCM coming back with its full line of machineries.

Can the major fairs in the region work together?

Walid Farghal: It’s not easy. To promote the sector we have to understand the technologies and should not be a simple exhibition to make money. We try to make sure that everyone is happy while working with us so that they continue the relationship.

If you notice there’s not much hike in the cost of Woodshow. We are working to support the industry. It’s a platform. We’re promoting ourselves everywhere only to make sure the welfare of the industry.

Your insight on the Asian industry.

Walid Farghal: Germany takes almost 60 per cent of the machinery manufacturing industry. Chinese and Taiwanese machinery manufacturers produce the ‘b’ level quality. If the German machinery is providing you a 3 hp machine in, say, x$, Chinese manufacturers will give a 2 hp machine in the same price. If there were no branding and marketing costs involved, the price difference between the two would have remained at 20 per cent.

The price further varies for the difference in perception. A German exhibitor will try every means to promote itself and then they will participate in a fair, whereas, an Asian company will first ensure its buyer and then will decide to participate in an exhibition. I’ve requested the associations and companies a lot of times that don’t bring only the printed brochures and catalogues to exhibit, bring the real machines, so that your buyers can decide on spot to buy the product. However, it depends on different mentalities and it reflects on the kind of markets these companies work.

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