IPM exhibitors capitalise on increase in horticultural work in the Middle East

The third International Plants Expo Middle East (IPM Dubai 2008) attracted 230 exhibitors from 28 countries this month.

Held at Dubai Airport Expo and opened by HH Sheik Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the three-day show had a catchment area of 200 million people from the politically independent states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudia Arabia, the UAE with its seven autonomous emirates, plus nearby Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Jordan and Syria.

The market for horticulture products in the Middle East has been enjoying unprecedented expansion, with the creation of parks, gardens in residential areas, hotels, landscaping of roads and business parks and the huge growth in tourism.

Much of the increased trade in horticulture is being driven by the Dubai Flower Centre, which has become an important export transit redistribution centre for flowers, plants and edibles in the region. Located at Dubai International Airport, the centre is a one-stop shop that includes cold storage and repacking facilities within the main building.

Eco Rain of Germany used IPM Dubai to launch the innovative Textile Irrigation Mat. The company said its irrigation system has potential not only for the rain-scarce areas of the Middle East but also for the temperate climes of northern Europe.

A system of polythene tubes with integrated pressure-compensated drippers are wrapped with a special textile fleece and then sewn into two further layers of the non-woven fabric. Irrigation is by water saturation of the fabric, resulting in capillary action providing the root system evenly with water. Potential areas of use include gardens and landscapes, borders of roads and roundabouts, rooftop gardens, golf courses and all sports turf.

The advantages over other irrigation systems are minimised evaporation, irrigation while the area is in use, reduced risk of vandalism or damage during mowing.

First-time exhibitor, glasshouse specialist Cambridge HOK is already known in the UAE for having secured a contract for the Oman Botanical Garden.

Representative Noel O'Leary said: "Here conditions are exactly the reverse of the UK, with controls needed to provide a cooler climate and shade to protect against the year-round sun. The UAE has become an important market, reflected by the quality of the enquiries we have received."

Landscapers, garden centres and municipal organisations were particularly interested in the transport carts from Modahum of Germany. The range of models allows heavy objects such as containers, garden ornaments and trees to be moved easily and safely.

The transport carts are made of galvanised steel with rubber tyre wheels that are mounted on axles with ball bearings.

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