The organizers of the Geneva auto show and representatives from Qatar Tourism announced plans to host a Middle East version of the event in Doha, Qatar’s capital, in autumn 2023.
The Qatar show will be held at the at Doha Exhibition and Convention Center and will take place every two years, while the Geneva show will continue to take place annually.
The Qatar event is likely to replace the Qatar auto show, although that decision has not yet been finalized, Sandro Mesquita, CEO of the Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS), told Automotive News Europe in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
Mesquita said there are a lot of auto fans in Middle East countries, giving the show the opportunity to expand internationally, and “there is huge potential in terms of selling in the regions.”
“I can assure you the car show in Doha will not be focused only on traditional engines but will be a way to promote new technologies such as hydrogen and EVs in the region,” he said.
He said the “concrete option” at this point is an autumn 2023 launch for the Doha show, but added it remains an option to possibly have a “soft launch” in autumn 2022.
Mesquita also highlighted the importance of developing a clear purpose for the Doha show, saying the Middle East event would not be a “copycat” of the Geneva show, but rather would develop its own concept and positioning.
“We have started work on that this week,” he said. “It has not yet been defined, but we have to stand out and have a clear purpose, because brands are looking for platforms that will provide them with a return on investment and the automakers will not join us if they do not see that.”Digital shift
Mesquita also said that the pandemic has accelerated the digital shift across trade shows of all kinds. He said digital tools will be used to expand the reach of the GIMS events and provide new experiences that bring together the virtual and the physical.
“We will use the experiences in Geneva to replicate that hybrid type of convention experience in Doha, however, these are just tools to help the impact and performance of the show. What is more important is to have a clear positioning,” Mesquita said. “We will develop synergies between the two shows, but they will be different because we are targeting different groups and regions.”
He pointed to the upcoming Munich IAA as an example of an auto show that is shifting its focus, in this case to one focused on general mobility, which he said already helps differentiate the GIMS exhibition.
“We are focusing on the automotive sector. We want to become the voice of the industry, and so we will keep cars at the core,” Mesquita said. “However, we also need to be firmly in the present and in the future, so we will integrate into the show the ecosystems around the automotive sector that are indirectly and directly affecting the auto industry.”
The Geneva shows that should have taken place this year and in 2020 were canceled because of the ongoing pandemic.
The next Geneva show is scheduled to take place Feb. 19-27, 2022. Organizers will disclose more information about the show on Sept. 17.
“Based on the number of exhibitor confirmations so far,’ Mesquita said, “I am confident that the  show will happen.”