The GCC flower market is currently valued at around 200 million euros and is set to grow to 1.5 - 2 billion euros over the next few years, according to the German Flowers Import and Wholesale Organisation.
"Dubai Civil Aviation has invested about US$70 million in the Dubai Flower Centre at Dubai International Airport, which is capable of handling 180,000 tonnes of perishable goods annually. By routing goods through tax-free Dubai, shippers can save time and money in the delivery chain connecting more than 15 producing countries with Asian, African and Middle Eastern markets," said Michael Mueller, Managing Director, planetfair Dubai LLC.
Commenting on the horticulture industry in the run-up to the first exhibition in Dubai dedicated to the sector, Mueller said: "For Dubai, the launch of the Flower Centre is a big step on the way to becoming a hub for trade in plants and cut flowers for the Middle East and Africa."
The size of Dubai's urban area is about 60,478 hectares, and Dubai Municipality has estimated landscaped areas to represent about eight per cent of Dubai's total urban area by 2012*.
"According to reports, Dubai Municipality plans to construct 44 community and playground parks, over the next few years. This shows that landscaping is a rapidly growing industry in the UAE."
The ongoing 'greening' of Dubai represents a boom for flower and plant imports - and the UAE was among the top 30 cut flower importers in 2003, according to the latest International Trade Centre statistics, alongside Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
The global flower trade is estimated to be worth around US$4.7 billion (AED17.26 billion).
Egon Gallinis, Managing Director, Messe Essen GmbH, said: "According to our research, GCC countries imported more than 30,000 tonnes of plants and flowers in 2005. Around 50 per cent of that was imported by the UAE alone. With rising demand from hotels, government authorities, private buyers and mega real estate projects, we estimate this industry segment will experience significant regional growth."
Local horticultural businesses currently import flowers, seedlings and seeds. Among imports of cut flowers, greenhouse roses take the lead followed by chrysanthemums, carnations and lilies. Popular imported potted plants include orchids and tropical plants.
"Booming demand has made us bring the leading international trade fair for the 'green industry' to Dubai. International Plants Expo Middle East is designed especially for the region's blooming horticulture and floriculture industries, and the show will provide an insight into international trends, new technologies, packaging and preservation techniques. In addition, customers will get a glimpse of the wide variety of plants, seeds and cut-flowers being produced worldwide."
IPM Dubai will have a display area of more than 4,000 square metres, and the exhibition aims to attract trade visitors from across the 'green industry' including plant producers, landscape gardeners, retail centres and wholesalers, real estate developers, local government and the hospitality industry. Visitors are expected from the GCC, Levant, Kenya and South Africa.
IPM Dubai is being organised by planetfair Dubai LLC and Messe Essen in Germany under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Department of Civil Aviation, Dubai.
The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Dubai Flower Centre is also supporting the exhibition.
International Plants Expo Middle East (IPM) will run from 11.00am to 8.00pm daily, from March 14 - 16, 2006 at the Airport Expo Dubai.