The MEADFA Conference
Like the passengers it serves, duty free and travel retail rarely stands still, but the market is changing faster than usual at present. Alongside the fallout from economic and political shifts, industry consolidation and the growth of mobile, the geographical tide is turning. One major beneficiary is the Middle East, where passenger traffic rose +10.6% over the first half according to ACI. Increasingly seen as a global aviation hub, the region now has world-class airport infrastructure and retailers to match. Factor in the rapid advance of Africa’s duty free and travel retail sector, and it’s clear why this part of the world is attracting industry attention.

For both established players and newcomers to the region, the 2015 Middle East & Africa Duty Free Association Conference (23-24 November at the Dead Sea in Jordan) offers an ideal vantage point from which to survey the changing business seascape. With the participation of major airports and airlines such as Qatar’s Hamad International Airport and Etihad Airways plus influential operators like Dubai Duty Free, Aer Rianta International, DFS, Lagardère Travel Retail, Qatar Duty Free,Tourvest and Hamila Duty Free among many others, the event gives brands a unique opportunity to boost awareness with the people that count. Conversely, the confirmed presence of some of the channel’s leading suppliers provides regional landlords, retailers and distributors with a global brand perspective. A strong panel of speakers includes His Excellency Akel Biltaji, Mayor of Amman and former Minister of Tourism in Jordan, plus Tim Sebastian, founder of the BBC’s Doha Debates and acknowledged authority on the region’s geopolitics.

Networking opportunities abound, both at formal events like the Opening Cocktail (sponsored by Dufry Sharjah) or Gala Dinner (courtesy of official Conference host World Duty Free Group) and informally during coffee breaks and lunches. Two topical workshops will analyse the inflight market and the integration of new technology with the region’s retail offer. Other sessions profile the markets in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Africa with input from experts on the ground.

Staged at the impressive King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre beside the Dead Sea in Jordan, the 2015 MEADFA Conference enjoys strong support from the Jordanian authorities, the Jordan Tourist Board and national carrier Royal Jordanian. Anyone seeking a comprehensive overview of a region already making waves in global duty free and travel retail need look no further.