The vaping industry will take centre stage in Dubai for the first international World Vape Show in 2020.
Just five months ago, the official sale of e-cigarettes was outlawed in the UAE.
New regulation on the sale of registered products launched in April, opening the door for Dubai to host the region’s largest vaping trade event next June at the World Trade Centre.
An estimated 64 million people are expected to switch from traditional cigarettes to alternative nicotine delivery devices over the next three years, boosting the global industry by an estimated $53.4 billion by 2024.
Many businesses will be hoping to tap into that market at the three-day vaping expo from June 3.
"Before April, it was against the law for retailers in the UAE to sell e-cigarette products but now there are huge opportunities for both manufacturers and retailers to take advantage of,” said Steve Diprose, managing director at Quartz Business Media, organisers of the World Vape Show.
"We have created this event to bring the industry together in a new market and to understand how suppliers can reach consumers.
“The show will help traders understand how the vaping category in-store can drive footfall, sales, and profits, and what we can learn from both specialist outlets and the big retailers.”
The safety of vaping products and other similar e-cigarette devices have been questioned recently after the first death potentially linked to vaping in America.
An Illinois man is recorded to have died from a lung illness doctors claim could be linked to e-cigarettes.
According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the death is one of almost 200 cases of similar respiratory problems with the only connection being e-cigarettes.
The American Vaping Association, however, said the illnesses were likely being caused by devices containing synthetic drugs like cannabis, and not nicotine.
Although less harmful than conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes still release harmful toxins when inhaled.
The long term health risks of such chemicals are largely unknown due to a lack of research over an extended period.
Public Health England is one authority claiming e-cigarettes are 95 per cent less harmful than conventional smoking.
Data published in the latest Tobacco Atlas report revealed there were almost 3,000 smoking related deaths in the UAE in 2016.
The tobacco industry has followed the trend towards vaping and smoking alternatives by spending billions of dollars on developing new nicotine delivery devices.
Philip Morris International released its findings on consumer trends in a white paper titled Unsmoke: Clearing the Way for Change.
Research is based on a major international study conducted in 13 countries for the company by independent research firm Povaddo.
The survey asked people aged 21-74 about the impact of smoking on personal relationships and their access to information on smoke-free alternatives.
“There is currently a tremendous amount of misinformation circulating about smoke-free products, and this is causing confusion,” said Jacek Olczak, chief operating officer at PMI.
“It is one of the biggest hurdles the world faces in becoming smoke-free.
“The reality is there are better options available to adult smokers who don’t quit.”
Results showed 90 per cent of the public is aware of e-cigarettes.
A further 68 per cent of current smokers said they would consider less harmful alternatives if there was clearer guidance on how they differ to conventional tobacco products.
Almost half of former smokers (48 per cent) who switched to smoke-free alternatives reported improved relationships with family and friends.
And 45 per cent reported their social lives also improved.
More than two-thirds (69 per cent) of non-smokers said they did not like visiting smokers’ homes because they felt uncomfortable being around smoke.
More than 50 international suppliers of nicotine delivery products and smoke-free alternatives have committed to the Dubai World Vape Show so far.
Primarily a trade show for businesses, the public will be granted entry on day three.
Debates centred around innovation, regulation and the industry outlook are also planned from leading experts in the field of reduced risk products.
From January, the Federal Tax Authority will apply a 100 per cent excise charge on all liquids in e-cigarettes, battery-powered devices and similar smoke-free products, even if they contain no nicotine.
"We’ve created a conference agenda to cover the full spectrum of the market, from innovation to public health to a specific session on the UAE’s market," said Mr Diprose.
“There urgently needs to be a new global conversation — based on scientific research and facts — about these alternatives.”