Leading experts from the pearl and jewelry industry today gathered at the Atlantis Hotel, Palm Jumeirah in Dubai Tuesday for the inaugural World Pearl Forum, hosted by the Dubai Pearl Exchange, a subsidiary of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre.
The event is being held under the patronage of Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
In a private meeting with many of the top officials of Dubai, Princess Haya praised the role of the pearl divers that once was the foundation of Dubai’s economy, adding that this Forum is in honor of the great tradition pearl diving and will help Dubai regain its legacy as the leader in the pearling industry.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman, Dubai World, underlined the Emirate’s historical connection with pearls and expressed hope that the industry effort would revive Dubai’s pearl trade during his keynote address.
“At present there is a need to create new avenues of development in trade,” Bin Sulayem said. “And the pearl industry, being a legacy industry in the Gulf, offers such an opportunity. Today’s reality calls for industry cooperation more than ever before – to build on our strengths and address the weaknesses and to create visibility and opportunity for this commodity. The World Pearl Forum presents an excellent platform for the pearl industry to synergize initiatives for the growth of the global trade.”
Earlier, the regional and international delegates were welcomed to the World Pearl Forum by Ahmed Bin Sualyem, executive chairman, DMCC.
“It is encouraging to see so many pearl experts from across the globe, together in one room, with one objective; to promote the growth of the global pearl industry,” said Bin Sualyem. “We appreciate that many of you have travelled from as far afield as China, Tahiti and Australia. The global crisis has affected us all and this is the ideal time for the pearl industry to coordinate its future growth plans and employ a comprehensive strategy for all aspects of the trade. It is important to focus on the development of unexplored markets, while at the same time creating greater awareness about pearls amongst customers.”
Discussions on the first day of the forum, included success stories from pearl experts, including Paspaley, Robert Wan, Mikimoto and Jewelmer in addition to a topical speech on the current market outlook by Chris Figee, Partner at McKinsey & Company. The panel discussion on the economic outlook for the pearl sector, highlighted opportunities to overcome the possible impact of the current economic climate on the pearl industry by increasing granularity and marketing focus by ensuring that companies selected the right micro-markets and consumers including the “Noveau riche”, such as city bankers and baby boomers.
Re-affirming Dubai’s commitment to the pearl trade, in her address, “Vision for the Pearls of the World,” Gaiti Rabbani, executive director – Coloured Stones and Pearls, DMCC said “We are committed to leveraging the strength of the Dubai brand as a retail and trade destination to promote the global pearl industry. Our strategic location not only acts as a gateway to one of the world’s most affluent consumer markets but also provides a supportive platform for international businesses to target tomorrow’s consumer. Bringing us full circle, Dubai has ambitions to once again become a city of pearls.”
Focusing on the black pearl of Tahiti, Robert Wan, president of the Robert Wan Tahiti Group illustrated the development of the Tahitian cultured pearls, his life-long dedication to the black pearl of Tahiti and his response to the current economic climate. Highlighting the importance of Dubai’s pearling heritage.
“The future is never stronger than when it is firmly rooted in the tradition,” Wan said. “When we think that Persian Gulf pearl diving and trade were in activity three thousand years ago, that even this region knew how to develop a powerful pearl industry between the 17th and 19th centuries, we have to pay tribute to Dubai. You carry the torch of a precious historical and cultural legacy, we wish you sincerely to become the world capital of the pearl.”
The event is also supported by Dubai World and sponsored by Rosy Blue, the key sponsor; Emirates NBD, the support sponsor; Damas, the sponsor for the Gala Dinner; in addition to Dubai Convention Bureau and Pearls of Arabia who are the co-sponsors for the welcome evening.