With a strong focus on building relationships, embarking on doing business in the UAE can be a daunting task. But is the knowledge of a local distributor of more value than the personal touch of working directly in the region? George Cole finds out
Audicom is based in Dubai Silicon Oasis, a Free Zone Authority that provides incentives and benefits to companies operating within the technology park
he United Arab Emirates (UAE) lies along the south-eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. To
the west is Qatar and off the south and west lies Saudi Arabia, with Oman to the north and east. The capital city is Abu Dhabi and the population is around 8 million. Most of the UAE’s landscape is desert, but the region is renowned for its futuristic apartments, towers and skyscrapers, the concrete, glass and metal edifices that seem to pierce the clouds. The region has a thriving oil and
gas industry, and is one of the fastest- growing tourist destinations in the world, as well as hosting many of the world’s top entertainment acts – Coldplay was in town last January. Hotel complexes, corporate headquarters, entertainment arenas, theatres and wealthy individuals with a passion for major home cinema mean it’s no surprise to find a thriving AV industry in the region.
32 IE April 2012 But what is surprising is how some
companies, including Sony and Extron, operate in the region without using AV distributors, while others, such as Sanyo, Panasonic, JVC and Barco, rely on them. Talk to some distributors and they will tell you how important their role is in this region, where building personal business relationships and providing local support are important. But some manufacturers believe that the best strategy is to bypass the distributor and go direct to the reseller. It all seems contradictory, but as this report shows, both business models are alive and kicking in the UAE. Audicom MEA is an AV distributor
that has been in the business for more than 30 years, and operating in the UAE for more than six years. Its client list features AV installers, integrators and rental companies. Audicom’s product range includes ceiling and wall mounting systems for projectors and flat panels, lift
systems and LCD panels, as well as control systems. Its office is in Dubai, although the company operates throughout the UAE. Audicom currently represents nine brands from the US, Europe and Korea including Aquavision, Audipack, Inca and Vutec.
Size matters So why do some AV manufacturers use a distributor in the UAE, while others prefer to deal directly with resellers, integrators and even contractors? Hans van den Berg, chief executive of Audicom MEA, says: “We deal with smaller brands – large companies can provide their own service and support, but we are dealing with high-end products that need on-the-spot service, which many smaller, specialised manufacturers cannot afford to offer. We are based in the region, we offer specialised products and we have the support for them.”
. After a collapse in confidence following the global downturn, the UAE market is regaining strength. Dubai leads the way, with government contracts particularly strong
. Whether working through a distributor or operating directly out of the UAE, personal relationships are the key to success
. Company size may be a factor, with smaller firms using the knowledge of a distributor while larger ones provide their own service and support
Van den Berg says that up until
around 2005-06, many manufacturers had also been taking on the role of distributor, and it’s common in the