Welcome to the MEADFA Guide, the official publication that accompanies this week’s Middle East & Africa Duty Free Conference in Beirut, in which we profile many of the region’s leading travel retailers.

Although there are some trading headwinds for travel retail, ranging from currency shifts to the restrictions on hand luggage (including shopping) imposed by some airlines, the bigger regional picture is bright.

Tourism and travel numbers are rising, while the investment in the business from airports, retailers and brands emphasises the rich promise of the channel.

In this edition, with MEADFA host Beirut Duty Free we discuss the investments the company is making to expand space for key categories and to improve the consumer experience.

Dubai Duty Free, the regional powerhouse, is targeting US$2 billion in sales this year, built on an excellent first-half performance in particular – bolstered by the addition of new space.

ARI-Middle East, long the biggest multi-location player in the market, has expanded its presence with a new terminal in Muscat and stores in Riyadh T5, among other projects.

Dufry and partner That-Al-Salasil, have extended their footprint at Kuwait International to the new Terminal 5, dedicated to low-cost carrier Jazeera Airways, and Dufry plans other big developments. We also examine how national players such as Iraq Duty Free and IDFS Morocco are enhancing their retail footprints.

Exciting terminal projects will enhance the travel retail offer in coming years too, from Abu Dhabi’s Midfield Terminal to Dubai’s Al Maktoum International, and from Bahrain Airport to Casablanca’s new T1.

These projects and how they fit into the Middle East and Africa travel retail picture will be widely discussed at this week’s event.

It promises to be a memorable MEADFA Conference in Beirut, one of the region’s great cities. Please enjoy this edition of the MEADFA Guide with our compliments.