With no less than 23 of its more than 40 exhibitions rated "global number one," the German city of Düsseldorf is indeed a superstar in the show business. Not content with this achievement, the city on the Rhine, which is also a major centre for the telecommunications, media and advertising industries, is making a vigorous push to cross new frontiers.

The slogan "Messe Düsseldorf goes global" is not new. Firm in the belief that "globalisation is to economics what gravity is to physics," the Messe Düsseldorf Group, the organisers of the shows, has capitalised on the evolving trends in international markets.

Exporting its expertise and services to emerging markets, it has been involved in staging more than 3,000 shows worldwide. With 60 foreign representatives covering 91 countries, the company now has a presence in all growth regions, including China, India, eastern and central Europe and Russia.

The Middle East is getting due priority. Abdul-Rahman Adib, project director of Messe Düsseldorf, expects investment volume in the regional markets to increase considerably and cites the success of the Beirut Boat show last spring.

Beirut Boat, the first specialist event planned jointly with the biggest trade fair organiser in the Middle East, International Fairs & Promotions (IFP), headquartered in Lebanon, attracted over 200 companies from over 20 countries. This year, the show will be held from May 30 to June 3. The organisers note that Middle East residents own over 20 per cent of all super yachts sold worldwide.

Also on the agenda are regional events linked to six World No 1 shows in Düsseldorf - MEDICA (health and medicine), interpack (packaging, packaging machinery and confectionery machinery), K (plastics and rubber), EuroShop (global retail), IMPRINTA (print media and cross-media publishing) and drupa (printing and paper).

In this connection, Ingo Lentz, director of information and public relations of Messe Düsseldorf, says the recent launch of daily nonstop flights by Emirates to the German city will boost regional links. "We are happy to have Emirates serve Düsseldorf; this direct flight is important for us," he says.

Making a brief presentation, Lentz says the group's activities fall into 5 sections - machinery and equipment; medicine and health; trade and services; fashion; and leisure and art. One of the top shows at the Düsseldorf venue, covering all 17 halls (total area 233,000 square metres) is the annual boat show, the world's biggest fair for marine activities and watersports.

The last show, from January 20 to 28, 2001, drew 1,727 companies and featured 2,000 motor and sailboats. "The highlight for this year, from Octobert 25 to November 1, is the plastics fair, K, which is staged every three years," says Lentz. Düsseldorf is also one of Europe's top fashion venues, hosting GDS, the world's biggest shoe fair, twice a year.

Last year, there were 43 trade fairs and exhibitions, up by two over the previous year; hall space occupied grew by 4.3 per cent; the number of exhibitors rose to 29,594, compared to 29,419 in 1999; and the number of visitors increased to 1,827,408, representing an increase of some 4.6 per cent over the previous year's figure of 1,746,420. Adib is happy that this translates into a value of three billion German marks for the region.