Gwadar looks safe. With the Prime Minister around, it feels too safe. The historic Gwadar Expo 2018 earlier this week was termed a resounding success – by organizers. The only thing close to historic about the show was the fact that it was the first ever expo in Gwadar, a feat that can certainly not be repeated.
If the motive behind the expo was to showcase Gwadar, its potential and development to the ‘world’, it was most certainly not achieved. Unless of course the ‘world’ is now confined to a few hundred real estate builders, developers, and brokers. The shocking absence of media, except for the state TV, further strengthens the point that it was not meant for the ‘world’ to see. 🔴BR Research unsuccessfully attempted to solve the mystery behind a media blackout – only to be casually told that the Chinese are not exactly fond of too much media.
The event still got reported alright in the leading newspapers. Only that the coverage looks more of a press release coming from the organizers, than a much-better on-the-ground reporting, which could certainly have been more extensive and served the purpose.
And if the idea was to provide a platform for businesses to interact with potential clients and have more business-to-business interaction on the sidelines, anecdotal evidence suggests that purpose was not achieved either. Some exhibitors stated they were there just to show presence. Others were looking for more interactions, only to be left high-and-dry, thanks to the real-estate heavy audience.
This is not to say that the expo could not achieve a thing. The impressive Business Centre as part of the Free Zone built in less than a year – shows there is commitment to the cause. Surprisingly, the Chinese participation was much lesser than one had anticipated. Whether the exhibitors are just eying to set-up shop in the free zone to trade with Pakistan or actually put in investments to build industries, remains unknown.
The almost frustrating arrangements in the name of security clearance, which made people walk long distance, and wait in the queues for longer than the actual stay in the exhibition hall, should at least serve as a learning curve for the organizers. The exhibition could have also done better to have stalls in industry clusters, rather than a random arrangement. Locals were also heard complaining of being ignored from the first ever big show in the city. These should all serve as pondering points, in order to put a much improved, bigger and better show next time around