WITH the 2017 edition of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition already confirmed as being the biggest in the history of the exhibition, new organisers EN Projects (M) Sdn Bhd can perhaps rest on its laurels.
But the new kid in town, so to speak, is doing no such thing: it‘s not just enough to be the biggest.
EN Projects chief executive officer Shaun Jacobson believes that the work is not done, not by a longshot.
“We are targeting to make this Lima the best ever since its inception in 1991 (and not just the biggest). Ten ministries are working together with other agencies to organise this event, including the Defence Ministry; Tourism and Culture Ministry; Transport Ministry; Home Ministry; Youth and Sports Ministry; Finance Ministry; the Kedah State Government; the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and the police.
“But, if you want to compare), during Lima 2015, there were 512 companies from 36 countries that took part as exhibitors. Confirmed space bookings for this year has seen a 40 per cent increase compared to the previous edition in 2015. Russia is currently once again the largest international country exhibitor, followed by France and the United Kingdom,“ he told the New Straits Times.
Asked why the growth in participation despite the current global economic uncertainties, Jacobson said it was because the world recognised the importance of the Southeast Asian region and that Malaysia was in good standing in the region.
“Lima has grown from strength to strength since the first edition in 1991. It has grown into one of the biggest shows in the world. That it continues to grow is a testament to the fact that Southeast Asia is an important region, and Malaysia is well-placed to affect growth in the region.
“The location of the show, in Langkawi, is also an advantage as both aerospace and maritime companies, whether defence-related or civilian, can take part in one show. Considering there are some companies, like BHIC, Alselsan, MBDA, for instance, which have interests in both aerospace and maritime among others, Lima is an advantageous show to be a part of.
“There is no doubt that Lima will continue to grow and will remain a major fixture in the exhibition calendar for years to come.“
Jacobson said the fact that several new countries were taking part in the exhibition was also a sign of the importance of the show, the region and the country.
“There are nine new countries taking part in Lima this year. These first-time exhibitors are bringing innovative, new products to Asian markets from Austria, Brazil, Estonia, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Poland, Thailand and Ukraine.
“Lima attracts most influential procurement executives from defence and civil sectors, including airlines, shipping, MRO, oil and gas, airport services, port authorities, port operators, port auxiliary services and cruise liners. All participants at Lima stand to gain from the comprehensive civil/commercial and defence delegates programme implemented at the show,“ he said.
Jacobson also stressed the importance of the many side events happening at Lima, including the Asean Aviation Summit and the International Maritime Conference.
He said these events would see major players in the international maritime, aerospace, security and defence industries as well as commercial and civil aviation taking part.
“One of the objectives of Lima is to showcase the latest civil and defence technologies related to maritime and aerospace. It is also a place for local companies to promote their products at international level.
“But, one other objective is equally as important, and that is to be a platform for discussion. So, the aviation summit and maritime conference are an important part of the Lima set-up.“
Asked why the aerospace and maritime exhibition were separated this time around, a throwback to the first few exhibitions, Jacobson said there were several advantages to this.
“The new dedicated maritime segment alongside the on-water display at Resorts World Langkawi offers a capacity of more than 6,000 sq m of indoor and outdoor exhibition areas and is aimed at connecting the key maritime buyers, government agencies and industry leaders at one place.
“It is a platform for vendors and clients to meet and conduct direct discussions related to products available in the market. Having a dedicated maritime segment provides just such an opportunity. Malaysia is, above all, a maritime nation and as such, it is fitting that the maritime segment should have a place all of its own.“
Jacobson said, as new organisers, the company tried to bring in several new things for the show, with the separation of the aerospace exhibitions being one of these.
“Apart from the separation of segments, we have a new UAV/AUV (unmanned aerial vehicles/autonomous underwater vehicles) display segment which will feature such equipment as the US Air Force‘s MQ-1 Predator, US Navy‘s MQ-8 Fire Scout, Thales’ Fulmar mini-UAV, Saab’s Sea Wasp (ROV) and a UAV from Ukraine.
“We also have a new Commercial Pavilion in which the Transport Ministry has taken the lead to bring together the commercial maritime and aviation community. The pavilion will feature first-time companies from federal port authorities, port ooperators, port auxiliary services and cruise liners.“
With Lima 2017 almost done and dusted, is EN Projects looking to the next one in two years‘ time?
Jacobson remained coy on this, saying: “The focus is on this Lima. This show is important and strategic, especially in promoting knowledge and technology exchange and sharing.“
He did, however, have this to say in parting: “We envision Lima as a platform for Asean countries to widen their cooperation network with other nations. Our main wish is to portray to the local and international communities that Malaysia is a maritime country, with the industry being an important contributor to the country’s economy and sovereignty.
“All the activities at this year’s Lima are focused at fostering international relations and cooperation, defence technology, dialogues and interaction at various leadership levels. Indeed, Lima is seen as the best medium to tell Malaysians of the importance of protecting our maritime security.“