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The GCC’s interior design market has surged in value, and is now worth almost US$18billion-a-year.

A region-wide study – the details of which are released today, the day before the official start of the 2017 INDEX Design Series; the Middle East’s biggest interior design exhibition – found that despite oil price fluctuations, the Gulf’s interiors industry has grown in value by more than US$2.2billion in the last 12 months alone.

Conducted by market analysts Ventures, the research discovered that the value of interior-based design and fit-out spend has risen from US$15.5bn in 2016 to US$17.7bn this year, with the steep rise attributed to near-constant innovation and what experts describe as “ever-changing personal preferences”.

The report – commissioned exclusively by INDEX – concluded that interior design is one of the Gulf’s fastest growing industries.

A Ventures spokesperson said: “Contractors in the GCC should consider themselves fortunate to be positioned in a region that is still very active compared to many other parts of the world despite low oil prices.

“With the current slowdown in the market and the fast-approaching dates for Expo 2020 and FIFA World Cup 2022, developers and consultants are bound to turn their attention towards providing high-quality refurbishments to their existing projects, in turn fueling the demand for interiors and fit-out contractors. The value of projects in the construction and interiors pipeline is four times the value of projects completed in the past ten years.”

Samantha Kane-Macdonald, event director at INDEX – which has gathered more than 1,000 interior product suppliers for four days of exhibiting at the Dubai World Trade Centre, starting on Monday – said: “In the face of global economic challenges, the pioneering endeavor and ambition of designers, architects and construction professionals based throughout the Gulf continues to not only persevere, but conceive, invent and drive the future of design.

“The region will play host to some of the world’s biggest events over the next decade, and the construction and redevelopment process for each of those is already well underway, across all sectors; hospitality, commercial real estate, retail, health and hospitals, and education. It’s hugely exciting.”

According to the report, the interiors industry is valued at its highest within the building sector, where its annual worth is $9.2bn – up almost $1bn on last year. The commercial real estate ($1.1bn), hotel ($2.1bn), retail ($1.2bn), hospital ($667m) and education ($452m) sectors have all increased interiors investment since 2016. The residential sector remained buoyant with an annual value of more than $3bn.

Individual interior product industries are also experiencing profitable growth. The lighting fixtures market is booming, with the region’s lighting systems market predicted to be worth $3.5bn by 2020. Textile imports and exports are valued at $3bn-a-year, with furniture and fittings recording similar figures.

All aspects of interior design will be showcased during INDEX, which has prided itself on offering interior designers, architects and procurement managers the ultimate creative platform on which to network and source some of the finest furniture and décor found anywhere in the world for the last 27 years. The show runs in tandem with workspace and Middle East Covering.

As well as the buying opportunities, INDEX also offers a host of industry-leading knowledge seminars through four days of OFIS-sponsored Design Talks, which this year feature former British Designer of the Year Bethan Gray, high-end interior expert Jo Hamilton and fashion guru-cum-product designer Henry Holland.

In what is a first for the show – which last year welcomed more than 34,400 visitors – INDEX 2017 runs with a theme, Design for the Senses, and will be set in a lush green forest brought alive by a host of sense-tingling, interactive features. In another first, the show will open its doors to the public, offering consumers the opportunity to peruse the exhibition on Wednesday evening, and throughout the entire day on Thursday.

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