The Lego Movie videogame. Image Credit: Supplied

In five years’ time, we’ll all be playing much more. A new report by analysts Euromonitor International estimates that the retail value of the toys and games market in the UAE will be worth $1.06 billion (Dh3.89 billion) by 2019.

The agency said the UAE’s retail value for toys and games was worth $686 million in 2014 and is projected to grow 11 per cent in 2015 to be worth $762 million. The category includes traditional children’s toys and games along with video games, such as those tied to films like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Lego Movie.

Factors responsible for this growth included a growing population coupled with a continuous increase in tourism. The UAE’s rising birth rate and high number of young working adults is having a positive impact on the market according to the recent report, while the influx of retail space added to the country’s network of malls and community centres is also ramping up demand.

With an $80 per capita spend on toys and games – more than Japan, Spain and Italy – the UAE is developing into a prime market for international toy manufacturers eager to expand their presence in the country and further afield into surrounding Gulf markets.

Plush toys

Plush toy manufacturer Wild Planet is among the brands that will line-up their latest range of children’s toys and games at the upcoming Playworld and Paperworld Middle East 2016 trade show in Dubai.

The Portuguese company will be one of many global manufacturers at the annual three-day event, which takes place from March 1 to 3, 2016 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Pedro Kleinsteuber, Export Manager at Wild Planet, said the company is planning to launch in the Middle East market 70 new items across four collections, as it looks to triple its sales revenue over the next two years. “In 2014, our business volume in the Middle East was worth $250,000, and we’re looking to increase this to $750,000 by 2016,” said Kleinsteuber.  “Plush toys are very popular in the region, particularly in the UAE, where tourists can buy soft toys that are easy to carry back home.  

“Retail space for children’s toys and games will increase, and we anticipate meeting a wide range of traders, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers at Paperworld Middle East 2016 as we build on our presence in the market,” added Kleinsteuber.  

Young population

Other headline names specialising in children’s toys and games at Playworld and Paperworld Middle East 2016 include Spanish Company Globos Festival, Rock Spring Trading from Saudi Arabia, and UAE-based JustDK.

Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, the organiser of Playworld and Paperworld Middle East, said: “The UAE has a predominantly young expatriate working population with high disposable incomes, and many households also have young families.  

“Compulsory medical insurance that covers maternity, as well as a rise in private hospitals has led to an increase in birth rates, while more schools means it’s also easier to raise a family in the country.

“Favourable economic and social indicators such as these explain the strong growth in consumers purchasing children’s toys and games.  Add to that its global status as a tourism shopping destination, and thousands of square meterage of retail space added every year, and the UAE’s toy market looks in good shape,” added Pauwels.

The retail value for children’s toys and games in the UAE includes traditional toys and games (plush toys, dolls, action figures and related accessories, remote control toys, puzzles, games, and children’s party items), and video game hardware and software.

According to the Euromonitor report, approximately $355 million of the $686 million in retail value in 2014 was for traditional toys and games, with video game hardware and software accounting for $331 million. 

Hypermarkets and other brick and mortar-based specialist toy stores conveniently located at malls across the country are the major distribution channels for traditional toys and games, while retailers are increasingly investing in internet retail to cater to the ongoing trend of consumers researching and comparing options online.

300 exhibitors

Now in its 6th edition, Paperworld Middle East 2016 is the Middle East and North Africa’s largest trade show for stationery, paper, and office supplies, featuring more than 300 exhibitors from 42 countries.

The dedicated trade show is expected to attract more than 6,000 trade buyers from 105 countries and will return with popular features including the Green Office Area, a dedicated section that showcases sustainably produced essential office supplies; the Wrapstar gift wrapping competition; and the Paperworld Recycling Competition, an inspirational showcase of sculptures created by UAE school children and made entirely from recycled school stationery.