Exhibition World | Japan crisisTHE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW.EXHIBITION-WORLD.NET| April 2011|15Tokyo industry speaksout on Japan disasterThe magnitude 9.0 earthquake thatstruck north east Japan at 5pm on11 March, subsequent tsunamiand damage to the Fukushima Dai-ichinuclear power facility, have combined tobecome one of the worst disasters inJapan's history.Responding to widespread civiliandisplacement, Tokyo's largest venue, TokyoBig Sight, confirmed it is to shelter 3,000evacuees from the stricken area. It's ameasure we saw put into practice at theErnest N. Morial Convention Center afterHurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005.More than 350,000 people were still living in evacuationcentres or temporary housing in northern and easternJapan at time of writing, the majority short of food, waterand fuel. In Tokyo however, major roads to the worst-affected areas were reopened to traffic, and the bullettrains have also returned to service, making it easier to getrelief supplies to the area. According to a spokesman for Tokyo Big Sight, homeof the Tokyo International Motor Show, the structure ofthe exhibition centre remains undamaged by theearthquake. However, scheduled internationalexhibitions have been postponed.Tad Ishizumi, president of Reed Exhibitions Japan andchairman of the Japanese Exhibition Association (JEXA),told EWhe hopes the situation for Tokyo's exhibitionsector will return to normal before long."Despite theseterrible circumstances, we feel fortunate and lucky," hesaid. "We found no employees injured andno relatives of our employees killed orinjured so far."However he confirmed the impact of theearthquake was felt at Reed's office in thecapital. "The office was shaken so hard thatall our employees could not stand still, butthe damage to the office was pretty small."Ishizumi added that Tokyo was not hostinga show when the disaster struck. "Had theaccident happened the previous week,when we hold one of our largest shows - theRenewable Energy Expo - it would havebeen totally disastrous and chaotic."Reed Japan was forced to cancel two 'pre-exhibitseminars for exhibitor' events, scheduled for 14 and 15March, both of which catered for 500 exhibitors andprospects. The organiser is evaluating alternative dates forthe meetings."Japan has been hit by its largest ever earthquake andtsunami. The sad thing is that the number of casualties isincreasing and the damage to infrastructure is becomingbigger as the time goes by," Ishizumi added.So now begins the road to recovery. At time of writing,power had been restored to the reactors in Fukushima,where workers were fighting to stem a radioactive leak. Butwith so many troubles ahead to manage, Ishizumi said theJapanese exhibition market has determined to resolvethem one by one. Basic amenities taken for granted haveto be re-established before progress can be made and theinternational market re-engaged."We could not communicate with other countries untilnow because our infrastructure was completely damaged,including telephone, transportation, electricity and water,"he said. "But in the Tokyo area we are now in a much bettersituation than other parts of Japan."Commentators estimate the cost of Japan's repair ataround US$150bn. It's a huge task, so let's hope Tokyo'sinternational exhibition business recovers soon; there hasnever been a more important time for overseas business toinvest in Japan. You can follow Japan's road to recovery online by visitingwww.exhibition-world.net.Tad IshizumiRepresentatives of the Tokyo exhibition industry speak to EWin the aftermath ofthe earthquake and tsunami that rocked the capital and laid waste to vast swathesof land in the north east of the country.
Feature| Exhibition World16| April 2011| Epoc Messe Frankfurt (EMF) has been operating in theMiddle East for nearly 10 years, during which time it hasbecome more than familiar with the region's uniquebusiness environment and ability to win a wide geographicspread of exhibitors and visitors.Until recently, Dubai served exclusively as the Germanvenue and organiser's gateway to the Middle East, but thatis all about to change with news that Messe Frankfurt issetting up in Saudi Arabia.Traditionally, EMF's events have been based in Dubai, butthe company regularly meets and does business withdecision makers from across the region, including SaudiArabia, according to CEO of EPOC Messe FrankfurtAhmed Pauwels. For the last 18 months it has beendeveloping old relationships and building new ones withauthorities and leading business figures in Saudi Arabia.Last year marked Messe Frankfurt's first foray outside ofDubai and showed the company's recognition for thegrowing events market in Qatar, where it partnered withseveral organisations on a number of events. But the scopehas since expanded. "As the Middle East representative for Messe Frankfurt,we plan to develop activities in each and every countrythroughout the MENA region," confirms Pauwels.But why the security exhibition Intersec? Well, as recentevents in the region will attest, security is a major market forcountries in the Middle East. "We have recognised security is a huge market in SaudiArabia and so, with our experience in organising anddeveloping the Intersec tradeshow and conference, it wasa logical step to explore the Saudi market in this industry,"says Pauwels.THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW.EXHIBITION-WORLD.NET"Also, through Intersec we have already establishedmajor business contacts in Saudi in this sector."Pauwels has been studying the challenges andopportunities presented by the Saudi market andunderstands the logistics behind hosting an event. "Wehave a very clear path marked out and look forward to thejourney," he adds.With that in mind, how does he plan to overcomeproblems such as the prohibitive entry laws; a wellpublicised barrier to entry for groups including women andIsraelis? Pauwels claims there is a fair deal of mythsurrounding gaining access to Saudi Arabia."Saudi Arabia still has to deal with a lot ofmisconceptions," he points out. "For example, singlewomen travelling to Saudi for business purposes are not asrestricted as people believe. With the right formalities asingle woman can enter Saudi Arabia without the companyof a Moharram [close male relative] when it is for businesspurposes."The logistics behind working in Saudi Arabia provided thefocus of a study by EMF; the result of many hours ofnetworking in the region carried out by Messe Frankfurtover the past 18 months. It prompted the organiser toconclude that the time is right to set up in Saudi Arabia."This is exactly why we feel the time is right to step into theSaudi market and begin organising exhibitions. Incomparison to other countries, Saudi Arabia still hasrestrictions and complications, we cannot deny that, but itis becoming a very attractive market for internationalinvestment and business development," says Pauwels. "Over the past few years in particular the country hasbeen opening up and looking outward towards increasedinternational investment opportunities. We believe ourexhibitors will be more than happy to overcome possiblecomplications because of the enormous business potentialin this untapped market."Much of the attraction in entering the Saudi market is,after all, to reach out to potentially the largest businesspopulation in the Middle East. Alagat Montgomery, a joint venture between AlagatInternational of Riyadh and UK organiser Montgomery, isalso launching a programme of Saudi international tradeexhibitions this year at the Riyadh International Conventionand Exhibition Centre (RICEC), an initiative set against aUS$400bn, five-year investment programme designed tostimulate and broaden the Saudi economy.With these two major internationals now active in SaudiArabia, it follows that other organisers will not be far behind.Watch this space.Tapping into Saudi ArabiaEpoc Messe Frankfurt CEO Ahmed Pauwels speaks to EWabout the company'sexpansion into the lucrative Saudi Arabian market.Ahmed Pauwels