There is no doubt that gold is a safe haven and more than five per cent drop in prices from its peak level brings back smiles to the faces of yellow metal consumer. It will continue to shine as the prospects for both jewellery sales and investor demand look brighter in the short term owing to drop in prices, according to analysts and industry experts. Total investment demand for the Middle East grew 15 per cent to 34 tonnes in 2011, with most of the growth being generated by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, according to the World Gold Council. Both the countries generated the strongest levels of annual bar and coin demand for 14 years, of 16.4 tonnes and 12.5 tonnes respectively. Catering to the demands of both the investors and common buyers, the 32nd MidEast Watch & Jewellery Show got under way on Tuesday and will continue until Saturday. The exhibition is being organised by Expo Centre Sharjah with the support of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The five-day event was inaugurated by Shaikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi, chairman, Sharjah Media Corporation. The opening ceremony was attended by Ahmed Mohammed Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI), Saif Mohammed Al Midfa – director-general of Expo Centre Sharjah, officials of various government departments, and members of trade associations. “Gold prices have fallen considerably since the end of last summer Aand could fall even further in the weeks ahead. Pullbacks in prices are always a golden opportunity to buy and this should not be missed by both investors and consumers to spruce up their portfolios and collections,” SCCI chairman said. For its spring edition, the show is occupying a total exhibition area of 20,000 square metres and hosting more than 450 master jewellers from around the world, attracting importers, retailers and private collectors from across the Middle East region. “When it comes to a comprehensive show that brings together the best names in jewellery manufacturing, designing and retailing from across the world, there is no other fair in the region to match the size and elegance of the MidEast Watch & Jewellery Show,” director general of Expo Centre Sharjah said. Diamond sales are also soaring in the region. Globally, the demand for rough diamonds is expected to grow at an average rate of 6.6 per cent to almost $23 billion by 2020, according business consultancy Bain & Co. The rising demand is being fuelled by increased consumer spending on diamond jewellery in Middle East, China and India. In a novel initiative, Expo Centre Sharjah, in an attempt to demystify diamonds and bring it closer to a wider target audience, is hosting a first-of-its-kind seminar during the show. The IGI Seminar Series sessions will be held in association with International Gemological Institute (IGI), the world’s largest independent gem certification institute. The seminar on the theme ‘Know Your Diamond’ will be held at the Seminar Hall of Expo Centre on March 29 and 30. “Apart from gold and diamond jewellery, finely crafted watches are also a big draw for visitors,” said Saif Mohammed Al Midfa. According to latest data released by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, the UAE was the Middle East’s biggest market for luxury watches in 2011. The UAE was the world’s ninth biggest market for watches, worth $658 million between January and November 2011. For its 32nd edition, the show is displaying extensive collections of diamond and gold jewellery, pearls, silver jewellery, gems, precious stones, loose pearls, pearl sets, crystals, watches, timepieces and clocks from Armenia, Bahrain, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Jordan, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Myanmar, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, the US and the UAE.