x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Shopkeepers complain about cost of new signs

Signmakers expect a boom in business once new regulations come into effect, but show concern for shop owners.

ABU DHABI // Sign companies stand to benefit from the capital's new standardisation requirements, but some said they were worried about the cost to small business owners.

"As a signmaker, we will be doing good business out of this, but it's not good for so many small businesses," said Emad Hawatmeh, the general manager of Super Sign in the capital.

"It's really a headache, and they will only have one year to comply. It's not enough time."

The Department of Economic Development (DED) began conducting workshops this week for signmakers explaining the new regulations for commercial signage.

Akram Alameddin, the assistant manager of design at Blue Star Advertising, agrees with the idea behind the new rules, but he suggested the DED develop a design department to help sign companies determine what will comply.

"Many of these shops are very small, and the owners cannot know what will be allowed," said Mr Alameddin. "They won't know what size, what shape, which sign works for their building."

One long-time signmaker estimated that 55 per cent of current signs in use are the lightbox variety, which will no longer be allowed.

Another said that 75 to 80 per cent of shop signs are flexible-face signs, which have also been deemed unacceptable.

"It's good, because the signs some people have now don't look nice," said Sanjit Kumar Datta, owner of Select Advertising.

Other signmakers said they were concerned that only some companies would benefit from the new regulations.

Mr Hawatmeh said his company had recently bought three printing machines for about Dh2 million each. The machines are primarily used to create flexible-face signs, and most of the permissible signs will need to be specially manufactured.

Sadique Abdulrahman, a shop manager for Sign Plus, said most of his business was flexible-face signs and he expected shops would want to stick with what they know.

"All the shops will think it's too expensive and they won't know when I tell them there are new rules," Mr Abdulrahman said. "We have to wait and see."

All new businesses will have to meet the commercial signage regulations and existing businesses will have one year from the date of their business licence renewal to comply.