In all, some 1,738 trade buyers attended the event, which also drew visitors from Eastern Europe, the CIS, Asia and Africa. Delegations attended from British Airways, Bahrain Duty Free, Kuwait Duty Free, Dubai and Abu Dhabi Duty Frees, Hamila Duty Free of Tunisia and Aer Rianta International-Middle East.
"For the first edition of a dedicated duty free show, we regard this turnout as extremely encouraging," said Justin Boutros, Managing Director, Channels Exhibitions, which organises the annual event.
Retailers, duty free operators, airline, airport, port and cruise line professionals topped the visitor business profile, quickly followed by agents, distributors, wholesalers and manufacturers and suppliers.
"One particularly pleasing aspect of the visitor profile is its depth," said Boutros. "There were also significant numbers of hoteliers, store owners and operators as well as ship chandlers."
Middle East Exclusive was staged against a background of rising duty free, airline and luxury goods sales in a region, which boasts countries with some of the highest per capita income in the world and among Its fastest-rising inbound and outbound tourism levels.
Opening the exhibition, Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, President, Department of Civil Aviation, Government of Dubai and Chairman of the Emirates Group, predicted regional duty free sales would soar to more than one billion dollars a year by 2006.The Moodie Report, the duty free industry's authoritative business intelligence service, cited the Middle East's duty free sector as ready to outpace the rest of the world within a decade.