Strong demand from end-use segments such as packaging, construction and food & beverage has placed the regional plastics industry in a high-growth mode, generating tremendous buzz for the inaugural Plastivision Arabia and ArabiaMold shows that got under way at Expo Centre Sharjah. The participants, exibitors and officials at the exhibition see a positive outlook for the plastic and petrochemical industries and said invesments worth billions of dollar being made in the region’s petrochemical projects to meet the growing demand especially in emerging economies. Shaikh Abdullah bin Salim bin Sultan Al Qassimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the four-day event. Indian Ambassador to the UAE M.K. Lokesh, director-general of Expo Centre Sharjah Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, president of All India Plastics Manufacturers Association (AIPMA) Jayesh Rambhia, among others also attended the opening ceremony on Monday. “Expo Centre Sharjah has gradually been expanding its calendar of events and Plastivision Arabia & ArabiaMold will be a landmark event both for us and the regional plastics industry,” Al Midfa said. “This is an opportunity to effectively tap into the fast-expanding plastics and the dies and moulds industries in the UAE and the region, owing to factors such as low raw material and feedstock prices, logistical advantage and fast industrial growth,” he added. A key driver of the plastics industry, the packaging sector in the UAE is valued at $1.84 billion in 2011, registering a growth at a CAGR of 4.27 per cent, according to Global Industry Analysts. It is projected to grow at a CAGR of 4.68 per cent to reach $2.3 billion in 2016. The second largest consumer of plastics, the construction sector in the UAE, will see nearly $15 billion worth of contracts awarded in 2012, an increase of 26 per cent from last year, with the total value of current projects standing at $2.2 trillion, according to Ventures Middle East. Annual consumer expenditure on food, another key end-user segment, reached $23.3 billion in the UAE in 2011 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.12 per cent to touch $33.7 billion in 2016. The resurgence in these fundamental growth drivers and the excitement it has created in the industry were clearly visible at the launch of Plastivision Arabia and the concurrent show ArabiaMold, according to the organisers. “To be honest, the response we have received for Plastivision Arabia and ArabiaMold is quite overwhelming. Despite being a launch edition, the number of exhibitors and pre-registered visitors is on the higher side even for an established trade fair,” Al Midfa said. Senior executives from Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, AIPMA, DEMAT, Expo Centre Sharjah, government officials and trade representatives were also present on the occasion.The shows cover an exhibition area of 10,000 square metres featuring 150 exhibitors from 20 countries. The orginisors also have one of the highest figures in terms of visitor pre-registration — more than 2,000.Visitors have registered from 50 countries, with the UAE having the lead share followed by Saudi Arabia and India. “GCC states are focusing on value addition, from oil economy to polymers and plastic products; and India is willing to support this transition with its industry — the manpower, machines and molds. We see opportunity for GCC and India, where we can co-operate with each other and supplement each other,” said Jayesh Rambhia, president, AIPMA, the co-organiser of Plastivision Arabia. The $25 billion Indian plastics industry has the largest number of exhibitors — nearly half of the total participation, while the rest are from China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, the UAE and the UK. “We have received an overwhelming response not only from Indian firms but also from overseas exhibitors, thus making this exhibition a global event for the plastics industry,” said Ajay U Desai, chairman, Plastivision Arabia 2012. The shows are offering a comprehensive sourcing point for key segments such as plastic processing, injection molding, thermoforming, packaging, industrial users, construction, infrastructure, automobile and telecommunication, among others.