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Eye of Riyadh
Tourism & Hospitality | Monday 13 August, 2018 12:29 am |
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GCC family entertainment centers get higher footfalls during summer months

Summer spells big business for various family entertainment service providers in Dubai and the rest of the Middle East. According to International Expo Consults, organisers of DEAL, MENA’s largest entertainment industry exhibition, the kids entertainment and soft play area manufacturers are going strong and will witness continuous growth in the near future. 

Over the years, retailers have witnessed a significant change in the consumer behavior with regards to their preferences. The mall operators along with the retailers are evolving themselves to fulfill the growing needs of immersive and convenient experiences. Family entertainment centers or FECs have become so immensely popular that their presence in shopping malls and retail centers is considered a mandatory feature. 

According to Sharif Rahman, CEO, IEC,“Family entertainment is a big industry in Dubai since it provides a big pull for the many tourists that visit here. Tourism and entertainment dollars are set to replace  the dependency on oil as we can see with the reforms taking place in the region. Weather is another factor that helps in the migration of footfalls into the malls. Therefore during the summer break, many of the edutainment venues hold summer camps indoors that are looking after the kids while their parents are away at work.”

“It’s not just the edutainment centers that are benefitting from the heat. Many shopping malls have soft play areas that are designed to keep the children happy while the parents enjoyed a bit of retail therapy. Now you see people bring their children specifically to the mall so that they can spend a few hours playing since it’s too hot to play outside, at least for the very little ones,” added Rahman. 

The edutainment space has witnessed considerable growth over the years, in fact there are several players in the market both big and small and many new entrants are arriving each year. Dubai in particular has a lot of edutainment options that have been operational for few years now, including ‘Kidzania’, ‘The Playmania’, ‘OliOli’, ‘Cheeky Monkeys’ among others. Emaar Entertainment recently launched their latest entry into the edutainment market with ‘Dig It’, a play space constructed around a realistic construction site which teaches children how to work together, building, creating and digging.

“While one end of the spectrum of the entertainment industry includes immersive experiences utilizing the latest virtual reality technology, the other end is low tech but just as essential soft play area market. They are an integral part of most edutainment zones and can be found in almost all malls and FECs in the region.  With the increased adoption of such areas in the Middle East, their demand has been rising as a result. We have had a good presence of products catering to the section as part of the DEAL show in the past. We believe soft play areas will play an integral part of our upcoming show and the demand for such concepts will be visible during DEAL 2019 as well”, added Rahman.

The Silver jubilee edition of DEAL 2019 aims to be larger as compared to the previous 24 editions as many new exhibitors have joined the show. Last year, the show welcomed over 300 exhibitors from across 33 countries and attracted thousands of trade visitors from around the globe. This three-day event will run from 25th– 27thMarch 2019 at Halls 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the World Trade Centre in Dubai.

The DEAL show has shaped the region’s entertainment industry for the past two and half decades and it has brought together great minds and their world class innovations all under one umbrella. DEAL has led the amusement and entertainment space during this period and the testimony to this is the fact that exhibitors at previous editions of the show have signed multi-million dollar contracts in just 3 days. DEAL 2019 expects to witness an even larger gathering of key players and visitors in the amusement industry from Middle East, Africa, US, Mediterranean and Asian countries. 

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