His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group this morning officially launched the 28th INDEX interior design exhibition in Dubai.

Joined by INDEX portfolio director Tony Crinion and dmg events President Matt Denton, His Highness launched the four-day festival of design before being given a guided tour of the show, which takes place today through Thursday at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

His Highness also liaised with firms taking part in INDEX’s sister shows, WORKSPACE – dedicated to office furniture and décor – and SURFACE Design Middle East, which focuses on uniting designers and architects with interior and exterior surface solutions.

Between them the shows expect to attract well over 30,000 visitors to more than 1,000 exhibitor stands. They also promise a host of knowledge sharing industry-focused OFIS-sponsored Design Talks, seminars and on-site interactive features, with INDEX hosting the Middle East’s first ever Ventura Project – a one-off collection of 40-plus exciting European designers brought exclusively to Dubai for the event.

Samantha Kane-Macdonald, INDEX event director, said: “It was our honour to welcome His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum to launch this year’s INDEX, WORKSPACE and SURFACE Design

Middle East exhibitions. Together, they promise a fantastic four-days of business and networking with the many of the leading international design firms and figures.

“This year we seek to explore the theme of Design for Expression: how individuality can be illustrated through interiors. Design that brings to life the end user’s personality, ambitions and life experiences is now more in demand than ever across both space build and final fit-out. Our shows are aiming to be able to supply every facet of that to fit any individual.

“We have perhaps the strongest line-up of exhibitors and speakers we have had to date, with interactive features installed to allow our visitors to explore the varying elements of design. The next four days will be a celebration of interiors and we’re thrilled to be underway.”

The OFIS-sponsored Design Talks at INDEX will welcome many of the region’s leading interior designers, architects and creative minds. The show floor is also awash with live installations, including Made in UAE, a hub of local craftspeople; the Artist Avenue, with live painting on site; and INDEX Off The Wall – a one-off photo opportunity in a room designed by award-winning designer Sharon Jutla and fitted-out with products from Jonathan Adler and the Four Seasons Ramesh Gallery.

INDEX opens at a time of huge growth for the interiors industry in the Gulf, which market analysts Ventures estimate will be worth almost $9billion (AED 33billion) in regards to fit-out projects across 2018.

According to the report, the interiors industry is valued at its highest within the residential sector, where its annual worth is $3.6bn (AED 13.2bn). The hotel ($2.1bn), commercial real estate ($1.1bn), retail ($872million), hospital ($410m) and education ($339m) sectors are all also set for strong investment in 2018.

A spokesperson for Ventures said: “The building construction market constitutes the largest market in the total GCC construction market. The market is robust due to growing local and expatriate population, and mega events such as Dubai Expo 2020, 2019 World Championships in Athletics, and FIFA World Cup 2022. The GCC building construction projects expected to be completed across all sectors are forecast to increase by 6% from US$ 67,515million in 2017 to US$72,164million in 2018.

“The value of completed and awarded construction projects represents a definite potential for interiors and fit-outs as interior projects are usually contracted during the second half of project execution. A surge in construction activities influences growth in the GCC interiors and fit-out market, which constitutes approximately 10 to 22% of the average construction project value. Interior design and fit-out are closely tied to the overall health of the economy, and particularly the property market.”

Samantha Kane-Macdonald added: “Our fresh approaches for 2018 will make this show the most all-encompassing INDEX we’ve ever had; a design event that truly caters to the needs of every single person working in the industry, at a time of substantial growth for the region. Through everything we incorporate and introduce to INDEX, we aim to build a creative platform that both inspires and connects people. Our innovations for 2018 will provide just that.”

To find out more or to register to attend INDEX 2018, taking place 26-29th March 2018 at the Dubai World Trade Centre (opening at 11am daily), visit: www.indexexhibition.com

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