‘Reimagine and reinvent’: Buzz builds for MEADFA event at TFWA Cannes

By Charlotte Turner |

MEADFA President, Sherif Toulan and John Rimmer, Managing Director, TFWA assured the industry that there was healthy interest in the upcoming MEADFA conference – due to take place at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Dubai on 21-23 November – and that attendance was already close to reaching capacity.


Rimmer explained that due to a limit on the number of people permitted to attend events in the Middle East – due to health and safety measures put in place by the local authorities – the overall visitor figure would unsurprisingly be lower compared to previous conferences.


Toulan provided an update on the current socio-economic conditions in the Middle East and Africa and how the DF&TR industry was adapting to ongoing external pressures connected to the spread of the virus.


“Today as the industry is trying to adapt to a new moment we are looking at which part of the world will recover first and how to learn from it and see what are the best practices. As you know recovery is highly dependent on vaccination and the freedom of movement and travel.


Support and flexibility will be critical to the industry recovery, said MEADFA president Sherif Toulan.

Support and flexibility will be critical to the industry recovery, said MEADFA president Sherif Toulan.


“Worldwide there has been over 6.5bn doses administered, yet the level of vaccination in the Middle East and Africa is still at 3-4% of the population.


“Countries in the Middle East are trying to implement safety measures whilst at the same time not hindering the movement and travel of people. This has resulted in a growth in our region that exceeded expectations.”


Despite the promising growth of travel retail, Toulan reiterated that ‘all operators together with landlords and brand owners have their work cut out for them’.


“We cannot afford to stay idle because deep down most of us know that we have challenges that will come in other forms…and this why I call on the industry to reimagine and reinvent the way we do business to offset any effects from the challenges that we are expecting.”


He said that support and flexibility will be key drivers to making sure the industry is on the path of recovery. “It doesn’t come only from brand owners and operators; landlords and governments play a critical role in the recovery.”



Speaking to TRBusiness recently, Toulan said that the association had created a members committee to alter the way the board works and that former Diageo GTR GM, Roger Jackson is heading it up. More to follow on this.


“As I say to my board, working together, sharing the same concerns, unifying our efforts,” added Toulan. “This is what will bring us through the current crisis and the ones that we are anticipating in the future. Opportunities always rise from challenges. The industry today is in serious need of agility and diversification in order to safeguard itself for the future.”


Pre-registration for the conference is now open until 6th November via the TFWA website: https://www.tfwa.com/the-meadfa-conference/book-your-place-100006094.


Running across two days, the conference will visit a number of trends as international travel restarts, with sessions on ‘Travel in a new world’, ‘Reimagining Tourism’, ‘Futureproofing retail’, ‘Defending our industry’ and more.

The last physical MEADFA event took place in Oman two years ago.

The last physical MEADFA event took place in Oman two years ago.


Moreover, networking opportunities will be ‘amplified’ for delegates attending the event in person, with coffee breaks, lunches, a Welcome Cocktail on Sunday and Gala Dinner on the Monday.


Those unable to attend in person will be able to access the conference via a paid livestream service on the TFWA 365 digital platform.


“This year’s MEADFA Conference will be focused on helping delegates from across the duty free and travel retail industry reignite their business after a difficult two years,” added Toulan.


“As the industry gets back up and running and begins to develop new approaches for a post-pandemic world, it’s more important than ever that we come together after what has been a long time apart, to continue planning for the recovery of our industry.”


“Our industry is a people business – and we really urge duty free and travel retail professionals to book their place now for what will be the key event in the Middle East and Africa region,” said Jaya Singh, TFWA President.


“As green shoots of recovery continue to emerge across our industry, we’re looking forward to seeing many familiar and new faces in Dubai.”


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