RIYADH: INDEX Saudi Arabia has offered visitors and trade professionals the chance to network with international and local manufacturers and suppliers, create long-term B2B relationships and discover the latest innovations in interior design.
The three-day event, held at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center from Sept. 6 to 8, attracted about 15,000 visitors.
As one of the world’s fastest-growing real estate markets, the Kingdom has a current market share of $1.5 trillion in planned projects, of which $10.7 billion is invested for commercial and residential construction projects.
The exhibition covered innovative solutions in the industry, especially in hospitality, interiors, technology, lighting, office, surfaces and finishes, outdoor and indoor furniture, and art.
Interior designers, architects and buyers were presented with an array of products and services from regional and global brands.
More than 250 distributors, manufacturers, suppliers and exhibitors participated from more than 20 countries including Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Poland, the UAE, France, Australia, India, Turkey and Bahrain.
In a first this year, the exhibition hosted the INDEX Design Talks in association with Geberit, during which industry professionals from around the world discussed the sector’s aesthetic, technical, market and strategic obstacles and dynamics.
Federico Minucci, Middle East director of real-estate consultancy, hospitality, tourism and leisure at Egis, made the opening remarks at the convention.
Dr. Sumayah Al-Soliman, CEO of the Saudi Architecture and Design Commission, spoke about the future of the architecture and design sector.
Panel discussions shed light on the Kingdom’s approach to modern design, integrating design and innovation with luxury wellness, and attracting and retaining the right design talent, and the challenges and opportunities within the Saudi market.
A presentation on “The essence of a designer and legacy of design” was made by founder and architect at M3N Design + Architecture, Ma’an Bajnaid.
Ben Corrigan, founder and managing director of Bluehaus Group, said: “Every time we do something a little bit better and more detailed, we are pushing that creative boundary a little more.”
Corrigan said that the group had been delivering projects in Riyadh since 2006 and some of the best-quality work they had delivered had been in the city.
“The challenge that is being faced today is that there isn’t maturity in the market yet for that level of consistency to deliver the best every time,” he said.
Sara Batterjee, founder and general manager at Focal Buildings Solutions, said: “I like to look at it as an opportunity for us in the interior design industry to become more specialized in either commercial, residential, or hospitality.”
Co-located with INDEX Saudi Arabia were The Hotel Show, The Lighting & Technology Expo, and Saudi Infrastructure Expo, which provided trade professionals with a networking and sourcing platform for their sectors.
Reflecting the Kingdom’s increasing participation in the tourism industry, The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia is the country’s most significant trade show, during which hotel and hospitality-sector buyers can inspect the latest technology and secure key suppliers from around the world.
Scott Henshaw, head of design and project delivery at The Red Sea Development Company, told Arab News: “The Kingdom’s tourism sector is ramping up very quickly. We started under PIF as a development management office in 2017, becoming a development company in the spring of 2018.”
Henshaw said that it had been a great journey so far as the company was leading the initiative in regenerative tourism.
“We hope to open our first hotels at the end of Q1 next year. We have 18 hotel projects, under either design or construction,” he said.
Henshaw said that 11 hotels were opening in 2024 on their hub island, followed by an additional stream of hotels by 2030.