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Elaine O’Connell reveals insights from the annual INDEX DUBAI

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Elaine O’Connell reveals insights from the annual INDEX DUBAI

Vice President of Design and Hospitality at dmg events Elaine O’Connell, explains how INDEX is contributing to the growth of the Design Industry in the Region, and reveals some insights from the annual INDEX: Business of Interiors report before INDEX Dubai, which runs at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 23-25, with more than 17,500 professionals are expected to convene.

Would you give us an overview of INDEX Dubai?
Since 1991, INDEX has been a successful platform that brings together global interior designers, hotel developers, retailers, and fit-out contractors with regional hotel, residential, commercial, and retail buyers. The three-day exhibition and conference will host more than 300 exhibitors this year, ensuring it continues to be one of the industry’s most significant events in the Middle East, providing the sector with the most lucrative deals and networking possibilities with architects, designers, buyers, developers, and distributors.

The Hotel Show, Workspace, and Leisure Show will all be co-located with INDEX at Dubai World Trade Centre, with over 500 exhibitors combined from 44 exhibiting countries, providing attendees greater value by visiting all shows with only one access pass. Additionally, visitors can check out leading start-ups and the latest innovations from across interior design, hospitality, workspaces and leisure.

This is all coupled with a wider range of networking opportunities and the chance to learn about new products and trends through our dedicated conference programme. The INDEX Design Talks, sponsored by GEBERIT, Cosentino, Presto and Kohler, are a series of open and lively discussions featuring many leading design figures, including inspiring interior designers, renowned regional architects, and prominent creative thinkers who will debate the latest trends and innovations.

Comparing this edition to prior ones, what makes it stand out in particular?
For the upcoming edition we are expecting a 30 per cent increase in visitors over last year, and we’ve confirmed a 34 per cent increase in exhibiting companies. We also have a really strong international presence this year with confirmed country pavilions from Europe, the Subcontinent, the Far East and the Middle East. Italy, Turkey, India, Portugal, Korea, and France are just some of the countries taking part, and collectively will be showcasing some of the latest, and most outstanding, products and projects.

And for the first time ever, we are running an ‘INDEX Student Competition’ – a country-wide university challenge aimed at supporting the future generation of architects and designers. Sponsored by VitrA, nine leading design houses have taken part in the judging process, namely Bishop Design, Roar, Kristina Zanic Consultants, Woods Bagot, Dewan, Architects + Engineers, 4space Design, Brand Creative, Dwp, and Gensler. The winning submissions across a number of categories will be given internships when their ongoing courses are complete.

Also, the Flooring and Stones Summit is a new addition to INDEX. The Asian Paints Berger-sponsored summit will focus on essential subjects such as the advantages and disadvantages of laminate flooring versus luxury vinyl tiles, stone and surface applications in interior design, surface design trends, and more.

What are the industry’s prospects and challenges in the region and UAE in particular?
We recently created our annual INDEX: Business of Interiors commercial outlook report, which revealed that in the GCC alone, the regional interiors and fit-out sector is expected to grow five per cent annually over the next five years. The outlook reveals a bullish forecast for the region, with the GCC interior design market to reach US$5.2 billion by 2025, which is mostly attributed to the region’s increasing population, rising urbanisation, and growing construction and real estate sectors, as well as a demand for sustainable, eco-friendly designs that are driving innovation in the industry.

In terms of individual GCC markets, the UAE is the largest for interior design, followed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Our outlook report has also identified some major challenges facing the sector, including a fight for sustainability, digital transformation, and e-commerce growth, which will be addressed by sector pioneers at the event in May. It is why we were so determined to build exploratory knowledge features into the INDEX profile.