The Middle East and North Africa Leisure and Attractions Council (MENALAC) delves into what setting up as a regional leisure supplier requires, and why supporting them is paramount to the industry’s collective growth
It takes a lot to set up as a leisure supplier in the MENA region. With the regional Leisure & Attractions industry being more than 30 years old, it’s seen great investment from businesses and entrepreneurs. As the industry gradually recovers from the impact of Covid-19, MENALAC recognizes and celebrates local suppliers for the crucial role they play in the industry’s growth.
What does setting up as a regional leisure supplier entail?
Commitment. Local leisure suppliers make a large commitment to the region when they decide to launch here. This is backed by substantial investment and profound knowledge about region-specific equipment.
Yasser Goneid, General Manager of Zamperla Amusement Rides Middle East & MENALAC member comments, “Zamperla was able to recognize quite early that the MENA region has great potential for the leisure and entertainment industry. It was very clear to us that having a regional office in MENA’s most promising business hub – Dubai – would give us a significant advantage”.
He continues, “I would say establishing our MENA region office took a couple of years, from 2004 to 2006, when we had our breakthrough with our first large project. It definitely took some hard work to get our customers to understand the benefits of a regional office. We had several meetings with each one of our existing and potential customers. We were also present at all major venues and trade shows. Soon enough, our customers were able to recognize the advantages of working with an international company that has invested in a regional office. I believe having a fully functional regional office that offers commercial services, project management, and technical support shows how serious we are in our commitment towards our customers in the region”.
What obstacles do local suppliers overcome to operate in the region?
A majority of the local suppliers who operate in the region choose to.
Arriving at this decision demands much deliberation, strategizing, and investment. The MENA’s Leisure & Attractions industry holds great appeal for better business opportunities, although the safety net in place for turbulent times is a thin one.
Being a local leisure supplier also requires an intimate understanding of the region’s climate conditions. These conditions dictate the lifespan of hardware and machinery, and adapting to them is paramount to safety and success.
Mike Rigby, Executive Vice President – Middle East & India at Whitewater West Industries & MENALAC member comments, “Never go anywhere without your company stamp! Jokes aside, the process to set up a local office in the region does need some patience and navigation. You may require direction from external companies to advise on the structure. I recommend you find a partner to support with immigration and even guide you through the local government processes; however, the UAE government has launched numerous initiatives to streamline the process. Once established it is relatively straightforward and not as stressful as many would think. There are plenty of companies that offer to do this, but the cheapest option on paper is not always the most sensible option in the long run”.
Rosa Tahmaseb, Secretary General of MENALAC comments, “Covid-19 has impacted all areas of the local Leisure & Attractions industry. It is now more crucial than ever to support our local leisure suppliers. Going local, as opposed to sourcing from global suppliers, ensures our recovering industry is kept sustainable for all”.
She continues, “The reality we risk facing if we do not support our homegrown suppliers is sourcing challenges; caused by the regional supplier chain shrinking. Local providers offer cost-effective solutions that are tailored to the MENA market’s needs, while also being perfectly suited to the region’s environment. This is the same recommendation I would make to all regions, not just the MENA”.
“Look at what you can source locally. You will often be pleasantly surprised at the depth and breadth of your local suppliers’ products, services, and most importantly, knowledge of the local market dynamics”, she concludes.
Why do local suppliers choose to operate in the region?
Following the boom the MENA Leisure & Attractions industry experienced following the mid-1990s, the region became even more attractive to suppliers.
As the industry continued to rapidly develop, suppliers saw great benefit in establishing themselves locally, in order to present a stronger commitment.
The influx of local suppliers the UAE has experienced is now taking place in Saudi Arabia and Egypt too. As these countries further solidify their national Leisure & Attractions industries, their local supplier population will soar.
This allows burgeoning Leisure & Attractions hot spots to access affordable, reliable, and experienced local suppliers while also helping the supplier community grow. The scene is set for it to be a mutually beneficial situation for all, but the decision lies with businesses and operations who must choose to work with local suppliers in order to keep the ecosystem practical and sustainable.
Saeed Abdillahi, Sales Manager, Embed – EMEA & MENALAC member comments on lessons learned from having a regional office, “We are committed to our industry’s evolution. It results in everyone winning because when our customers thrive, we thrive. Unlike other players, who work through a distributor and do not have any presence in the region, we continue to invest across different markets through our regional headquarters, like our office in Dubai”.
He continues, “We are here for the long haul and that gives our customers all the confidence required from a truly reliable partner, who’s nearby, in the same time zone, and available to enable, empower and ease their business. Pre-pandemic, we trained many partners in our facility, ensuring continued knowledge transfer. We planned to continue when conditions finally allowed us to reopen”.
Stuart Taylor, Managing Director, Kraft Werk Living Technologies & MENALAC member comments on the company’s goals in the region, “We believe in the Middle East’s growing entertainment and culture markets, and opening an office in Dubai is an important step to strengthen our operations worldwide. Our current aim is to enrich the Middle East market with innovative technology and expertise in technical design, engineering, implementation and maintenance. On top of this, we have several new unique attraction products as well as ground-breaking LED solutions, which are going to inspire the UAE and Saudi Arabian market.”
MENALAC represents 530 operations and over 200 brands from 22 countries in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region including Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Council spreads knowledge and awareness about pressing industry topics, and is on a continual mission to help its members and the industry thrive.