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Arabian Gulf’s leather market US$2.9 billion market

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Dubai, UAE, 30 April 2017: Exotic Indonesian reptile skins, luxury fashion accessories, UAE-produced camel leather goods, and the global launch of 24 karat gilded stilettos from Italy all shared the stage, at the Middle East’s dedicated leather industry trade show, Leatherworld Middle East.
The 3rd edition of Leatherworld Middle East runs for three days at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, where 65 exhibitors from 16 countries are tapping into a Gulf region that traded US$2.9 billion worth of leather goods, services, and materials in 2016.
According to analysts, the GCC imported US$2.6 worth of raw hides, skins, furs, and leather articles such as saddlery and harnesses, travel goods, handbags, wallets, apparel, and accessories in 2016. Exports were valued at US$345 million.
The UAE was a key regional player, importing leather goods worth US$1.2 billion in 2016, while exports added up to US$263 million.  Saudi Arabia’s imports were worth US$400 million, while exports amounted to US$69 million.
Global and local players alike are out in full force this week in Dubai, as they look to make a mark with their latest wares, from exotic hides such as alligator, snake, stingray skins, or Amazonian fish hides, to finished leather goods including footwear, handbags, and belts.
Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, the organiser of Leatherworld Middle East, said:  “Leatherworld Middle East is the embodiment of luxury and exclusivity, and this is evident the moment one walks through the entrance into an array of exotic animal hides, high-end consumer goods, or finely tuned machinery.
“Manufacturers and suppliers are coming from almost every corner of the globe, from Australia, Germany and Italy, to Thailand, Iran, India, and of course, the UAE.  The international stature this week is also underlined by national pavilions from France, South Africa, Indonesia, and for the first time, Egypt,” added Pauwels.
Spearheading the UAE presence is Founding Sponsor Al Khaznah Tannery, the Middle East’s only tanner of biodegradable, metal-free camel hide, and producer of goods such as handbags, sandals, and accessories; and Afriwest, a supplier of high-end leather and leather care products for the automotive and interior industries.

“We’re showcasing upholstery leather, exotics, Zola Leather, Vegetable tanned leather, Automotive, Embossed, Bi-tonal leather, and Leather care and restoration products,” said Anita A. Ahiadormey, Business Development Manager at Afriwest General Trading.  “The regional market is developing and there’s more awareness of leather and its varied uses. There will be more avenues for revenue outside of the interior industries which has been the main focus so far.”

Many high-end European tanneries are looking to further their presence in the Middle East market, with French players Remy Carriat, Sovos Grosjean, and Tanneries Du Puy leading the way.  Italhide from Italy is also returning for the second straight year, and is launching its 2018 exotic skin collection used for shoes, bags, garments, or interior design.
Silvio Rognoni, Export Manager for Italhide, said: “We’re looking to meet designers, architects, or manufacturers who’re after the finest quality of exotic leathers that have the best touches from an Italian tannery recognised as among the world’s best.  Our soft crocodile and unique wool python skins, as well as our diamond dusted skins will surprise everyone this week.”
Taking centre stage at Leatherworld Middle East 2017 is the Trend Forum, an exclusive showcase of exquisitely finished leather innovations and designs seen for the first time in the region, and in some cases, the world. It was the focal point of the global launch of a gold embossed, diamond encrusted women’s shoe collection from Italian shoe designer Antonio Vietri.
Turin native Vietri said the high-end heels can cost as much as EUR 30,000, but with that price includes delivery by helicopter. “My latest women’s collection also features silk pumps embossed with gold or silver and buyers can customise them if they wish with pearls, Swarovski crystals, or diamonds,” said Vietri. “Gulf customers and retailers love luxury and this is something that they’ve never seen before.”
Genesis Gulf International is another exhibitor presenting the international launch of its leather brand GEN Leather Arrays, offering fashion accessories, leather garments, shoes, wallets, belts, keyrings, and bags.
Managing Director Abid Raza Khan, said: “Our designers are from all around the world and we patent our designs.  We are new in this market and foresee ourselves growing rapidly. Our target of leather market in this region by the end of 2017 is a turnover of around US$10 million.”
Leatherworld Middle East 2017 features other key highlights, such as the Fashion Avenue, where the UAE’s most talented designers at ESMOD Dubai are presenting their creative flair with an inspiring array of leather garments, bags, and accessories.
Other features include Leather Production for tanneries and dealers of semi-finished and finished animal hides; and the Shoe Box, a dedicated section for mid to high-end leather footwear.
Leatherworld Middle East 2017 is supported by the French Hides Association, the French Federation of Tanners, South African Footwear and Leather Export Council, the Indonesian Footwear Association, and the Egypt Expo and Convention Authority.
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