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Future Green 2013 cancelled over failure to make the mall grade

Exhibitors of Future Green 2013 were asked to pack up and leave Dubai Marina Mall after management staff inspected the stands before the start of the event.

An exhibition of eco-friendly products was prematurely cancelled yesterday for allegedly not looking upmarket enough.

Future Green 2013, a two-day showcase of green products, was scheduled to begin at Dubai Marina Mall yesterday for the third consecutive year.

The mall had previously supported the event by not charging organisers rent for the event space as part of its social responsibility programme.

But at midday yesterday, the 35 exhibitors were told they had half an hour to pack up and leave the mall's Dome Atrium.

Tatiana Antonelli Abella, co-founder and managing director of Goumbook, the event organiser, said a floor plan and pictures of how stands would look had been discussed with the mall's management a week before the event.

Participants started setting up at 7.30am, but at 9.15am, the mall's general manager inspected the stands and said they looked "horrible, worse than a car-boot sale in the UK", according to Mrs Abella.

One of the issues causing disagreement was a requirement that all matching cloths that covered the tables needed to be ironed. Mrs Abella said that, because of a supplier's error, the cloths arrived only at 6am and not all were ironed.

"There was nothing we could do at this point, just make it very clean and tidy," she said.

She said exhibitors tried to address the mall's concerns for more than an hour. "They were putting a lot of restrictions in place that were, in my opinion, unreasonable," said Reim El Houni, managing director of Bambootique, a company which is offering clothes made out of bamboo.

"We had a number of mall management...just asking us to move items, be tidier. Quite honestly, we had very tidy stands."

Exhibitors were then told they had 30 minutes to pack up and leave.

The event was offered the opportunity to use an outdoor promenade, but exhibitors said it was just too hot.

"Some people had cosmetics and candles that could melt in the sun," said Mujahid Salman, founder and chief executive of 174 Solar, a distributor of solar products.

Other exhibitors said they were upset at the treatment they received after the decision was made to shut down the event.

"While I was just thinking what to do next, some security people and helpers from the mall just came and started picking up the tables," said Bhawna Sehra, a candle maker.

Shirley Conlon, the owner of an all-natural skin care line, said she was unable to discuss the issue with mall management.

"When I came back down, my stand was gone," Mrs Conlon said. "It was very stressful. It was awful the way we were asked to leave."

Mrs Conlon said in her opinion the event "looked brilliant" and she had already been doing good business in the morning.

"It is sad because the event was really well-advertised," she said. "I think it would have been a hugely successful event if it was allowed to continue."

Mrs El Houni said Future Green was an important event for her company.

"We spent a significant amount of time and money getting everything ready," she said. "Now we are in a situation where we are apologising to everyone and trying to explain why we are not in Marina Mall."

A Dubai Marina Mall spokesman said: "The mall hosts the Future Green exhibition as part of our commitment to support green awareness initiatives and to extend support to retailers and manufacturers of environment-friendly products and services. The event has been successfully held in the mall in earlier years, attracting strong crowds.

"Unfortunately, this year the event set-up was not as per approved specifications. There were also safety considerations which were not met."

"The management therefore had to take appropriate action to ensure the smooth operations of the mall."

vtodorova@thenational.ae

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