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Leatherworld Middle East 2016: Al Khaznah Tannery leads the UAE charge

From the most technologically advanced Abu Dhabi tannery to a Dubai-based start-up aiming to be a global name in leather accessories, UAE companies are set to steal the spotlight when the 2nd edition of Leatherworld Middle East opens next month.

Some of the world’s leading manufacturers and suppliers are preparing for the Middle East’s only trade show covering the global leather industry’s entire value chain, but it’s new and returning UAE-based companies that will eagerly stamp their mark on an industry typically dominated by European heavyweights.

At the forefront of returning UAE exhibitors at Leatherworld Middle East 2016 is the show’s Founding Sponsor Al Khaznah Tannery, the region’s only tannery that specialises in 100 per cent biodegradable and metal-free camel hide.

The Abu Dhabi government-owned facility produces about 4.2 million sqft of camel leather annually, and is one of the few tanneries worldwide equipped to recycle up to 80 per cent of water required in production.

Fresh off the heels of its successful outing at the inaugural show last year, Al Khaznah is returning with its latest range of leather articles and finished goods at Leatherworld Middle East 2016, which takes place from 26-28 April at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The latest developments at Al Khaznah include the supplying of its camel hide for saddles and traditional sandals, while Emirati artist Zeinab Alhashemi used Al Khaznah’s hides for her 2015 Abu Dhabi exhibition, Camoulflage. In addition to being used for shoes, watches, upholstery for hotels, airlines, or boats, Al Khaznah camel hide can be seen in exclusive European contemporary furniture.

Another returning UAE exhibitor at Leatherworld Middle East 2016 is Afriwest General Trading, a Dubai-based supplier of European leather for the automotive and interior design industries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Having met with locally-based independent handbag designers at the show last year, Afriwest is now aiming to attract other designers with the launch of its new exotic leather range, including high-end Python, Stingray, Alligator and Ostrich leathers from Italy.

“We are targeting fashion design start-ups and established accessory and shoe manufacturers within the region,” said Anita Ahiadormey, Business Development Manager of Afriwest General Trading.  “We would also like to show automotive, hospitality and yacht interior designers how exotics can be used to enhance luxury design.”

leatherworld middle eastAmong the UAE exhibitors making their Leatherworld Middle East 2016 debut is Maria Thelma Rosales – a family-owned leather accessories maker established two years ago in Dubai.

The start-up brand will display its entire range of handmade leather pouches, wallets, and handbags at Leatherworld Middle East, including the launch of its newest collection designed with Swarovski crystals.

“When I travelled to Florence, Italy in 2013, I was fascinated with the leather shops by the Ponte Vecchio, and upon returning to Dubai, I started making my own leather accessories,” said Managing Director Thelma Rosales, whose long-term goal is to establish standalone boutiques globally.

“The Maria Thelma Rosales brand combines luxury, simplicity of design, emphasis on high quality materials, attention to detail, and traditional craft techniques.  Every collection is proudly hand-cut and stitched, while we produce only a limited quantity of each collection to maintain the brand’s exclusivity.”

Other UAE-based exhibitors at Leatherworld Middle East 2016 include Joudi International, Hidesign, Katabe Middle East, Percept General Trading, RexCorp General Trading, and ESMOD Dubai, one of the world’s leading fashion design institutions.

Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, the organiser of Leatherworld Middle East, said: “Leather making and tanning are part of the Middle East’s heritage, and it is encouraging to see UAE-based manufacturers and designers take an active part in meeting the demands of the increasingly sophisticated and high-end global leather market.”

Leatherworld Middle East is the region’s first and only dedicated trade event covering the entire value chain of the global leather industry, from tanneries (semi-finished and finished leather), chemicals, and machinery to finished leather goods, including footwear, bags, wallets, accessories, furniture and everything derived from leather.

The three-day event will feature exclusive product zones, including ‘The Shoe Box’, a section dedicated entirely for footwear; ‘The Trend Zone’, for tanneries to display the latest international leather trends, ‘The Designers’ Area; and ‘The Fashion Avenue’, where suppliers of high street fashion leather products showcase their high-end leather clothes and accessories.

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