More than 200 delegates from the region and around the world have gathered at the Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City hotel complex in Dubai (UAE) for gasworld’s flagship MENA Industrial Gases Conference 2019.

Held to tackle the Business Models Fit for Purpose in the Middle East and North Africa, the 2.5 day conference will explore the challenges and opportunities facing the region as it moves forward into the next decade.

Seif Ghasemi, Chairman, President and CEO of Air Products, is taking time out of his busy schedule to provide the opening keynote for the conference and takes to the stage in just a few moments’ time.

He will reflect on the significance of the Middle East region – described by gasworld Publisher and CEO John Raquet as “more to Seifi than just business – it is part of his DNA” – in a keynote titled From The Cradle of Civilisation to Energising the World.

Raquet has himself just welcomed delegates, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors alike to the conference, enthusing, “It is my pleasure to welcome you to our seventh Middle East and North African Conference (MENA) and here at the Habtoor City Conference centre, in the heart of the vibrant Emirate of Dubai!”

“I know December is a favourite time for many of you visiting and working in Dubai as, for one reason, the temperature is more reasonable and also, it’s a fitting end to an ever more challenging year.”

“I have already had the honour of meeting many of you at previous conferences or even during my recent visits to the region. For those that are joining us for the first time, our ethos and aim is to ensure that you gain more insight into our industry, especially in the region, make new contacts and leave richer in knowledge and ideas.”

Feeling ‘squeezed’

gasworld’s flagship event has been and remains its MENA Industrial Gas Conference, which has been held in the UAE since the first ever conference in 2007.

Twelve years on and the region has experienced huge change in both supply models and actual demand for industrial, medical and special gases.

There has been the significant entry of the major gas companies such as Air Products, Air Liquide, Linde, Messer and Praxair, which have focused not only on the major onsite projects that have arisen across the region but also on acquiring positions in the merchant market. There are changes at the customer level, with the large energy companies focusing on downstream oil and natural gas – giving rise to more investment projects at tonnage gas consumption levels, but also impacting demand for merchant gases.

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Reflecting on the huge change in the region in that timeframe, Raquet continued, “The region is facing several challenges – it is clear that many independent companies are starting to feel squeezed.”

“Industrial gas prices have declined in many countries due to the increased competitive environment; but another challenge comes from the rising costs of doing business within the region. So our theme over the next two days – Business Models Fit for Purpose – aims to address some of these challenges you face and hopefully provide some answers. We also very much believe in working with the safety associations, and we will address the issues they face through the presence of both MEGA and EIGA.”

“The gasworld team have invited speakers rich in knowledge and experiences to help you address how best to manage and run your businesses,” Raquet added. “We will mainly focus on the merchant gases business within the region and have invited speakers to share some of their experiences in the form of case studies to enhance your thoughts and ideas.”

Raquet will shortly hand over to Ghasemi to deliver his eagerly awaited keynote.

Follow the conference online

Our coverage of the conference continues online throughout the day, including Seifi Ghasemi’s keynote talk.

Stay up-to-date with all the latest news, views and developments at the event via the gasworld website. For more ways to keep on top of developments from the event as they happen, follow and interact with gasworld on Twitter using the hashtag #GWMENA19.