Local Business

Print industry will still dominate

Muzaffar Rizvi
Filed on April 6, 2014
Print industry will still dominate

Print Pack Arabia set for promising debut in Sharjah tomorrow

Print industry will still dominate (/assets/oldimages/print_06042014.jpg)The print industry will continue to dominate the media landscape in the Gulf region despite the increasing role of online, digital and social media in modern-day life, top executives say.

The region’s print industry is driven by growing economies and supported by core sectors such as real estate, retail and mega projects. The printing and packing sector is interrelated with all industrial sectors and will continue to grow with them, however the industry needs to adopt latest innovative technology to stay competitive in the market.

“The current value of the print market in the Middle East and North Africa region is approximately $7.7 billion, growing at a rate of 42 per cent to $11 billion by 2015,” Saif Al Midfa, chief executive, Expo Centre Sharjah, told Khaleej Times ahead of inaugural edition of Print Pack Arabia this week.

The four-day event, which is all set for a promising debut tomorrow, is being participated by over 250 exhibitors from 25 countries. Plastivision Arabia and ArabiaMold will also run parallel with the exhibition.

Al Midfa said a rise in marketing services and advertising, with the regional investment pegged at $16.5 billion in 2012, also boosts the industry.

Echoing similar views, the general secretary of the Indian Printing, Packaging and Allied Machinery Manufacturers’ Association, C.P. Paul, said the Gulf print industry has a great future mainly due to growing packaging segment.

“The print and packaging industry in Mena as well as in the UAE particularly, as the UAE is an important segment of Mena, will be on growth path due to increase in innovative packaging,” he said.

Al Midfa said the print segment accounts for nearly three-fourths of the total ad spend in the GCC against a global trend where online and digital platforms are overshadowing the print and other media. “It accounted for 71 per cent of total ad spending in the GCC,” he said.

In the Mena, Al Midfa said newspaper circulation was the highest globally, with a growth rate of 4.8 per cent. “There is no second opinion that digital and online media consumption is growing in the region, but it is still in its early stages compared to print. In the GCC, digital ad spend amounted to around $180 million in 2012, which accounts for only 9.4 per cent of total ad spend in the region,” he said.

“A growing economy and mega events like World Expo 2020 in Dubai and the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar will continue to generate massive opportunities for the printing industry,” he added.

Paul said ad spend in the printing industry is mainly limited to trade journals only and it is not very significant. However, trade shows and exhibition spending has been increasing, he said.

New technology

Al Midfa said regional printing companies will have to acquire new technology to achieve the quality and speed required while addressing growing demand for short runs, quick turnarounds and variable content.

“The printing industry is a state of continuous transition... both conventional and digital printing platforms have their pros and cons. While offset is most commonly used for high volume commercial printing, the growth of digital printing technology has brought technical advancements, more options, and exciting new features for today’s commercial printing,” he said.

“Advance printing technologies that facilitate distribution of newspapers and magazines quicker than the country of origin mean that print is still a big business in the digital age. Acquiring latest technologies will be key for the sector to scale newer heights,” Al Midfa said.

Paul said the print and packaging industry will have to be innovative and adopt new technologies to meet the growing demand in various key sectors. He said new developments in print technology are environment focused compared to digital and online media.

About LED UV technology, he said it is a futuristic development and would help the Gulf newspaper industry in the future.

“LED UV is upcoming technology due to low power consumption and energy. It will change the face of printing industry,” he said.

Regarding new technological developments dominating the print and packaging segments, Paul said drip off and Cast and Cure technologies will dominate the industry in coming year.

Challenges ahead

Al Midfa said the print industry will be facing numerous challenges in years to come to stay afloat against growing presence of digital, online and social media in the region.

“Greater fragmentation of media channels, contracting marketing spends or margins, constantly evolving market trends and continually evolving technology are some of the challenges facing the industry,” he explained.

To a question about the impact of free zones such as Media City and IMPZ in Dubai on the printing sector, he said free zones create a unique environment for media production companies from across the industry value chain to interact and collaborate effectively.

“They have succeeded in attracting hundreds of companies from across the world, making the UAE a hub for media, print, advertising and publishing companies,” he said.

Paul said Print Pack Arabia will be a regular event and Sharjah will also host its second edition in 2016. He said leading players from the UAE, India and Western countries will participate.

“Presence from suppliers from West is definitely there and it is also represented by India or UAE companies,” he said.

To a question, he said the Indian print industry is growing at a rate higher than gross domestic growth in India and “I’m sure the trend is the same in the Gulf”. muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com

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