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INDEX Dubai - INDEX Saudi Arabia


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Interview with: Katie McBride, Director, INDEX – International Design Exhibition

Katie McBride, Commercial Director, INDEX Exhibition
Katie McBride, Commercial Director, INDEX Exhibition

INDEX Dubai 31 May – 2 June 2021 | INDEX Saudi Arabia 28 Feb – 2 Mar 2021

The positivity and resilience the interiors industry has shown when faced with the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19 has been astounding. This global pandemic has impacted the interiors community in multiple ways, not least the ability to meet face-to-face and see first-hand the latest innovations & products in design.


1. Could you please let us know more about INDEX DUBAI exhibition, last year statistics and success story?

Sure! At INDEX we like to keep the focus on why we exist. The understanding that the most important part of any room is the people. Whether for work, home or play – these spaces are fast-changing to accommodate an unparalleled shift in the human environment and ultimately a changing dynamic in the interior design industry.

At 30 years old, INDEX (the Middle East’s only large-scale interiors trade event) has been a platform to introduce interiors companies into the thriving Middle East market, to sculpt interior experiences in a dynamic real estate environment.

Anyone that has worked on a heritage brand in a mature market will understand the difficulty in maintaining growth. For our 2019 event, that was our core objective, and through creative and customer-focused thinking we did just that! The results? In 2019 INDEX in Dubai welcomed 29,945 visitors up 9% from 2018 (27,448) and 17% from 2017 (25,415).

INDEX Dubai - INDEX Saudi Arabia

A core driver to this was the social campaigns and continues to be the perfect vehicle to keep us engaged with this unique and passionate community 365 days-a-year. This is something we continue to do, just take a look at our channels to see: @indexdubai.

The real reward for this was shown in the quality of attendance last year, with the volume of senior executives and decision-makers increasing 20% on 2018. For the suitably impressed exhibiting companies, this cemented the understanding of why face-to-face events are so important. Quality matters.

As an organising team, the understanding that customers experienced a true return on their exhibition investment is paramount to inspiring the energy, passion and belief in product that will ensure a stable and growing brand for another 30 more successful years in the Middle East.

2. How do you evaluate Covid 19 Pandemic effects on textile exhibitions industry all around the world?

Textiles is an important and growing sector within INDEX and is a craft that is heavily produced across the Middle East and showcased at our event. The positivity and resilience the interiors and textiles industry has shown when faced with the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19 has been astounding. This global pandemic has impacted the interiors community in multiple ways, not least the ability to meet face-to-face and see first-hand the latest innovations & products in design.

INDEX Dubai - INDEX Saudi Arabia

We can’t speak for other exhibition organisers, but with the safety of our exhibitors and visitors in mind, and with ongoing concerns over future travel restrictions for our 500+ international exhibitors, the difficult decision was made to postpone INDEX to 31st May – 2nd June 2021 (Dubai World Trade Centre). The new dates have been welcomed by the interior design community and have been recognised as an ideal time to once again meet new suppliers, the source for projects and accelerate business in a safe and creative environment.

However, we refuse to let the absence of INDEX 2020 from the calendar affect the community. Our team has been working hard to make sure that interior suppliers and interior designers are connected throughout the year. We’ve launched a webinar series and product showcase videos designed to ensure that the interiors community can continue to find new and innovative products, as well as keeping connected.

3. Could you please let us know about other Branches of INDEX in middle east or Africa?

With the continued success and positive recognition with the INDEX brand based in Dubai, we’ve recently geo-expanded the show into the Saudi market.

According to research by Venture Onsite, the UAE leads in the share of interiors and fit-out spend in the GCC region with 42% of the market share, followed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) (29%). The GCC, particularly the UAE and KSA have witnessed growth in the number of fit-out projects awarded as a result of EXPO 2020 (now EXPO 2021) in Dubai and KSA’s Vision 2030 and so we will continue to support interiors products suppliers from across the world to access these growing markets.

Over the past 3 years, INDEX Saudi has established itself as a leading exhibition for local and international suppliers of interior design and fit-out products to tap into Saudi Arabia’s $3.5 billion interiors market and now welcomes over 10,000 visitors.

INDEX Dubai - INDEX Saudi Arabia

4. What do you think about the Middle East and Africa textile market and it’s potentials?

Textiles are an incredibly important segment for INDEX. According to Mordor Intelligence, the textile industry in GCC is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 3.8% from 2019 to 2024. The digital textile printing industry in the GCC is expected to see a market growth US$ 5.44 bn by 2023 with a CAGR of 11.6%, triggered by the eCommerce industry and the exponential demand by the millennials and the rising GenZ population, according to Smithers Pira.

In my opinion though, it’s the creativity and craft flourishing in Dubai that has meant that the textile industry growth in the Gulf region is concentrated in the UAE. Among the GCC countries, particularly, the UAE has garnered a lot of business from other countries moving their base of operation to Fujairah, an area in the UAE. Fujairah is called a ”free zone”, which means that companies located there are not required to pay taxes or pay any fees for repatriation. This is one of the major factors that brought many companies and people into the UAE, which adds a larger customer base for their garments and textiles.

Middle Eastern Textiles Industry UAE

5. What is your plan for INDEX 2021? Do you have any special program, conference or workshop during INDEX 2021?

The plans for INDEX 2021 are well underway and the priority is to ensure that the event is delivered safely for both exhibitors and visitors, and this means re-thinking the way we will be offering experiences and interactions for networking for the next edition. We will continue hosting our renowned INDEX Design Talks conference which creates a huge attraction for high quality interiors buyers, alongside a variety of new and engaging experiences for visitors to enjoy.

More than ever we feel it’s of paramount importance that exhibiting companies have an excellent showcase, and designers will have direct access to new and innovative products in the Middle East. This means we’re offering lots of extra value to each exhibitor booking to ensure these connections are made pre-event and at the show, in-turn supporting the stabilizing of the interiors sector in a post-pandemic world. One new feature of note will be an exhibit of handcrafted products created in the heart of the show floor by textiles or furniture makers, for us this promotes the importance and sustainability of bespoke and local products when applicable for an interior fit-out.

INDEX – International Design Exhibition

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