The industry’s oldest and premium exhibition, Paper Arabia, has made a comeback following post-Covid new investments and expansions in the GCC paper industry surging in excess of $1.6 billion in the past two years.

At a media briefing , spokespersons of Paper Arabia, organised by Dubai’s pioneer in events and expos, Al Fajer Information and Services, said a major share of these investments were in the UAE and Saudi Arabia in greenfield projects as well as in expansion of existing production facilities to cater to the growing consumer demand for paper products, particularly in packaging and hygiene.

“The paper industry in the Middle East has evolved over the years and it is now one of the world’s fastest growing markets. The Covid pandemic had brought in disruptions and production bottlenecks throwing in unprecedented challenges for paper mills across the world, but it also helped mushroom new opportunities in paper packaging and paper disposables, further fuelled by an e-commerce boom,” said Nadhal Mohamed, General Manager, Al Fajer Information & Services.

Growth context

He said the relaunch of Paper Arabia comes in a growth context for the paper industry. “This is the 12th edition of Paper Arabia and the response have been robust with nearly 100 companies from 30 countries participating,” he said.

The B2B show is taking place at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre from May 16 to 18, 2023. Saudi Paper Group, the Middle East’s biggest tissue manufacturer are the principal sponsors of the show. The group have been unwaveringly supporting Paper Arabia since 2007.

The growth of the Middle East paper industry investments also comes in the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war which is a cause of concern for Europe with implications on the energy-intensive paper industry.

The demand for paper and pulp products in the Middle East and Africa market is being driven by the increased demand for green packaging solutions, and according to a research entity, Mordor Intelligence, the market is poised to touch $28.72 billion in the next five years, growing at a CAGR of 3.28%.

Consumer attitudes

“Consumer attitudes and preferences have changed, and in the recent times, health and hygiene conscious consumers have fuelled the market for paper packaging and disposables like tissues with per capita consumption of these products on the rise,” said Naveen Seth, Assistant Secretary, PHD Chamber of Commerce, India.

Increasing environmental awareness is also driving the growth of paper products with governments in the region, particularly the UAE, clamping restrictions on the use of non-renewable products like single-use plastics, he said, adding that 30 companies taking part in the exhibition at the India Pavilion.

The growth of the packaging industry has also grown with e-commerce boom, and data from Statista for the UAE estimates that e-commerce now accounts for some 7% of the retail spend.

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