• July 21, 2024

All Across Asia

 All Across Asia

Credit: Adobe Stock

Credit: Adobe Stock

Several vaping events will take place in Asia and the Middle East this year.

By Norm Bour

The vape events world has seen its ups and downs over the past decade, and finding an event close to you can be an effort. Ten years ago, there were dozens in the U.S., many open to the public, who came in with empty bags, hoping to get their share of freebies. As the industry became more professional, international and interconnected—plagued by regulators’ bias and lack of knowledge—the number of events fell. Still, there are some serious players in Asia and the Middle East.

Each country has its own regulatory challenges, and some continue to host regular events, whether focused on the tobacco industry, like InterTabac and World Tobacco Middle East, or niche industries, like the World Battery Show. However, there is a noticeable concentration on the vape scene, particularly in Asia. In recent years, Dubai and the Middle East have seen a surge in popularity, indicating the region’s growing significance in the global vape industry.

Of the 20 vape/tobacco events that are scheduled through the rest of 2024, five will be in the Middle East, primarily Dubai, plus one in Cairo. Some of these are considered to be “world” events while others are focused on the Middle East specifically. Three are in the U.S., two are in Indonesia, and single events are held in various other places, including China, Malaysia, Moscow and South Africa, plus the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum (GTNF) that will be held Sept. 24–26 in Athens.

Since I have been in Asia for the past six months and spoke at the World Vape Show Dubai several years ago, I wanted to offer an update on the vape scene on the “far side” of the world. September through October will be a busy four-week period, with three major events taking place in two different countries just a few hundred miles apart.

The World Vape Show (WVS) team at Quartz Business Events, a significant player in the industry, is organizing the Dubai and Indonesia events. It has a global reach, having held events in Manilla, Warsaw and the U.K. This year, its focus is on Dubai, Indonesia and WVS Paraguay, which was held in March of this year.

The WVS events, spanning three continents, are particularly noteworthy, with Dubai emerging as a key location. The upcoming event in Surabaya, Indonesia, Oct. 9–10 will be a collaboration with World Tobacco Asia, further underlining the importance of the World Vape Show events.

Over the past several years, the Middle East has emerged as one of the primary vape markets. Asia is still divided between vape-friendly countries (Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam) and the stricter countries of Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei.

WVS’ partnership with World Tobacco Asia is a good move, bringing a strong recent player in the industry to pool with the longtime WT Asia team, which has been conducting events for three decades. They already have a loyal and interested base, and now that base is learning about vapes as well as tobacco. I can personally attest to the professionalism of this group, as they offer a terrific show held over several days.

Jake Nixon, the event director for World Vape Show, is optimistic about the Middle East as well as Asia. “There are still a lot of conversations around vape products globally and the health benefits for smokers looking to transition away from combustible cigarettes,” said Nixon. “Exhibitions with a B2B focus enable the industry to come together and discuss any challenges currently being faced.”

The co-branded event will be held in separate event halls but accessible to all attendees, and both attendees and exhibitors hail from all over the globe. The Surabaya location is unusual in that the majority of Malaysian events are held in Kuala Lumpur whereas the port city of Surabaya is located on the northern island of Java.

The end of September will also be busy in Indonesia as the annual Vape Fair, one of the biggest in Asia, will be held Sept. 28–29 in Jakarta. This unique B2C event is strategically placed within Southeast Asia’s large footprint and brings in tens of thousands of visitors from all sectors. I asked a representative of the Vape Fair, “Why Indonesia?”

The representative answered that the Indonesian government takes a common sense approach and “maintains a balanced and proactive stance on vaping, along with permitting the sale and consumption of vaping products while offering comprehensive regulations.”

Vape Fair is unique in that it remains vape only, along with some heat-not-burn products, and is one of the largest vape-focused shows in the world, which allows the public at large to receive a worldwide audience. The days of the public’s access to vaping events may not be over.

The company behind Vape Fair, Pamerindo, conducts events worldwide in many sectors. This will be the company’s ninth vaping event, which is noteworthy in such a volatile industry.

Sept. 6–8 is when the first of these three events starts with the Asia New Tabacco Industry Expo (ANTY) show in Kuala Lumpur at the Malaysia International Convention and Exhibition Centre. An invitation to this event is what started my research on who, when and where there were vaping events in Asia and the Middle East. I was not familiar with the ANTY, but I learned that they have been offering this show for eight years.

The ANTY is a B2C-only event that is also vape-centered and e-cigarette-centered but invites crossover exhibitors and guests, including the New Tobacco Global Conference (NTGC), which will bring experts together to discuss the industry. The Shenzhen-based ANTY seems to offer this as their primary worldwide vape show since vape and tobacco shows are no longer allowed in China.

GTNF 2023 (Seoul)

When I inquired about the “why” behind the ANTY/NTGC location, they also acknowledged that Malaysia, like Indonesia, is one of the most practical locations based on accessibility and reasonable government regulations. They are also optimistic about future shows and want to host more events inside and outside Asia.

Meanwhile, 5,000 miles to the west, the final show of the year will be the Middle East Vape Show (MEVS 360), held in Cairo Dec. 9–11. More than 100 exhibitors are expected. The following month, a tentative January 2025 show is on the docket to be held in Bahrain.

I traded emails with Arya Hakim, part of the creative team at SAWA International, based in the Kingdom of Bahrain, probably not the first place we would think of to headquarter a vaping event promotion company. But since 2016, they have been working the vape scene in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as well as working behind the scenes with regulators.

Of course, you would expect this forum to be intensely focused in helping to create collaboration and partnerships, but it also offers workshops and education, always a bonus. “Egypt has the highest tobacco consumption in the MENA area, and we project 1 million of the 20 million current smokers will switch to e-cigs in the future,” said Hakim. “The MEVS show is an opportunity to introduce new technology to old habits.”

For the past five years, they have been educating the public about the harms of vaping in comparison to traditional smoking, along with showcasing innovations and holding industry workshops.

As predicted a decade ago, the vape world has become more professional, mainstream and international. The “world is flat” theory holds true in that borders and languages do not matter as much as they once did, and the vape world is more directed by regulations at all levels instead.

Norm Bour is the founder of VapeMentors and works with vape businesses worldwide. He can be reached at norm@VapeMentors.com.