Blogger: Kai Hattendorf, UFI Managing Director
This November, we had to witness terrible attacks on innocent people most prominently in Paris, where the UFI team is based, but also in Beirut, and in Mali’s capital Bamako. The global reaction has been outrage over such atrocities, but also heightened security in many countries ever since. As I am writing this, Belgium is still on the terrorism alert, and France has extended its nationwide state of emergency for three months.
As we shared through UFI’s social media channels, our team here in Paris as well as our families and friends are safe and unharmed. Thank you very much to each and every one of you who reached out to us in the days and weeks since 13 November, asking about how we are and how we cope. It means a lot to everyone here at UFI to know that we are working for members who care!
So yes, we are safe, and yes, we will continue as before. The City of Paris has a coat of arms, in which the city states its motto: “Fluctuat nec mergitur“ – which translates as “tossed by the waves, but not sunk“. It has been in use since 1358, and ever since Paris has come out of attacks of all kinds vital and strong again.
In this city right now, the general mood is that it will do just this again.
But there is the bigger picture – about what these attacks mean for our industry.
In the days after the attacks in Paris, all scheduled tradeshows took place as planned, and none were cancelled in Beirut or in Brussels either. Security measures have been tightened, but visitors and exhibitors have been going about their business as usual.
We usually focus on the benefits of trade and on the economic factors that make tradeshows such a vital and valuable tool for industries and international communities.
The past weeks bring back to my mind another critical benefit that our industry provides: As we bring together people on the tradeshow floor, we create exchanges and dialogues among business people and decision makers from all kinds of countries and cultures, colours and beliefs. These dialogues drive exchanges, and mutual understanding. And they result in trust – trust that creates trade and mutual progress.
In times where extremists are trying to unsettle some of the very basic principles that have helped people everywhere on the planet to build a better life for themselves, let’s focus on what our industry can do: Provide excellent platforms for trade, exchange and understanding, on site and online, wherever we can.