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Analysts : Mideast now major food and drink market

Recent Research reveals that, in recent years, the Middle East has become one of the most important food and drink markets in the world. Residents of the Gulf states spend $9.5 billion annually on foods consumed outside their homes, according to the latest report from analysts BIS Shrapnel, Foodservice in the Middle East - the U.A.E., 2005 - 2006.

The U.A.E. foodservice market alone is worth a massive Dh16 billion ($4.36 billion), and predicted to grow by a rate of 11 per cent per annum over 2005 and 2006.

The news comes as the region is gearing up for its largest food and hospitality event, as applications continue to pour in for exhibition space at Gulfood 2006.

The 11th Gulf Food, Hotel and Equipment Exhibition and Salon Culinaire, organized by Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC), will be held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center (DICEC) from February 19 to 22.

Statistics from the World Bank show the GCC's annual food imports exceeded $12 billion in 2004. More than 90 per cent of the region's food and beverage needs are imported. When the associated value of equipment, expertise and hospitality is added in, it represents one of the largest areas of economic growth in the region.

With such significant opportunities for business development on offer, Gulfood has become the largest food show of its kind in the region, said Helal Saeed al-Marri, director general of the DWTC.

"Gulfood is one of the most dynamic exhibitions held within the Middle East, attracting manufacturers, distributors and suppliers, representing all the key sectors within food and hospitality, from over 60 countries. Its global standing is a reflection of the massive development of the region's hospitality and tourism sectors over the past decade and of the rising international interest in the Middle East as a food market," he said.

Beirut 15-01-2006
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