December 2018


With 250 citywide events, 130 participating companies and 75,000 visitors in Dubai Design District (d3) alone, it is safe to state that Dubai Design Week 2018 was a resounding success. Having grown by 25 percent since the previous edition, this year’s festival was aimed at encouraging and empowering local and international design talents as well as activating all segments of the industry.

At the festival, the ‘Reading Bench’ by UAE-based designer duo Sakina Kara-Sabur and Alicia Spoljar from BySOZO Interiors was announced as the winner of the inaugural Design 100 competition organized by d3. Organized in collaboration with Dubai Cares, the UAE-based philanthropic organization and with AHEC as a Knowledge Partner, the contest was open to all designers specializing in furniture and functional objects across the UAE. d3 produced 100 pieces of the winning work in American tulipwood, which were then made available for sale to the public at AED 3,000 per bench at Dubai Design Week 2018, with all proceeds from the sale donated to Dubai Cares.

Testament to the importance of the region, American Softwoods (AMSO) held two successful seminars in Cairo and Damietta earlier in November, which were attended by over 120 specifiers, importers, traders, and end users of softwoods. According to AMSO, Egypt has the potential to become a USD 32 million-dollar market for U.S. softwoods.

Egypt is currently the largest market for American softwood in the MENA region. Sales in 2017 were USD 4.98 million. The peak year for sales since 2013 was 2016 when sales reached USD 8.26 million. In the first nine months of 2018, sales were already USD 8.5 million and are set to top USD 10 million by the year-end.

This is an excellent performance in the light of a strong dollar and a buoyant market in the U.S., which tends to suck volume away from exports. The timing of these seminars coincided with the Cairo Wood Show, which took place early in December, and is significant of Egypt’s growing importance as a wood processing hub.

Our final issue of the year also features the first of our Q&A columns with the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA). Started in 1898, the NHLA is a membership based international trade association dedicated to the hardwood industry. As the voice of the hardwood industry, the NHLA represents the entire hardwood supply chain at all levels of production. It has a mission to serve NHLA Members engaged in the commerce of North American hardwood lumber by maintaining order, structure and ethics in the changing global hardwood marketplace; providing unique member services; promoting North American hardwood lumber and advocating the interest of the hardwood community in public/private policy issues; and providing a platform for networking opportunities.

In this issue and in the coming editions of the magazine, Dana Spessert, Chief Inspector, NHLA will answer a few questions for buyers and specifiers looking to purchase American hardwoods. With the holiday season approaching, I would like to wish all of you Happy Holidays and the best for 2019.