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Posts Tagged ‘arab beverage awards’

I’ve always liked spontaneity, however, some leaps of faith are still bigger than others; let me explain…

On Thursday 12 June, I had a call from Dubai asking if I was planning on attending the Qatrah awards we had entered Aquapax for. The Qatrah awards are the Arab world equivalent ‘beverage industry shindig’ and to be honest, I’d entered Aquapax on a whim because of the interest I’ve noticed from middle-eastern customers whenever I do my store demos.

“Do you believe it would be a good thing for my business?” I asked the project manager in a call back the following morning. “Definitely” came the reply – he explained the awards are the crowning pinnacle of success in the Arab beverage industry and that because Aquapax is so different, we had a great chance of qualifying as one of the finalists. This would guarantee publicity in the largest bottled water market in the world (based on per capita consumption) and there might be a good chance of me speaking at the conference if I was prepared to attend.

My spontaneous self said “go for it” and following discussion with my wife, I booked a carbon-offset air-ticket Sunday morning, for travel that evening down to Dubai via Bahrain with Gulf Air. I’m not familiar with that part of the world and despite my formative years in Africa, nothing quite prepared me for the 35 degree heat at 09:00 in the morning – it was apparent my shirt per day + one spare packing discipline, wasn’t going to suffice on this particular trip.

Summarising the trip – because I get bored reading long blogs – I got to meet some truly sincere and lovely people from the bottled water and wider beverage world, representing New Zealand, the USA, South Africa and from all corners of the Arab world. The contacts I’ve made are all very worthy and we now have potential access to co-packing partners in 3 countries, along with some genuine connections with ‘friends of my future’.

The speech I’d prepared on the flight down was delivered from my heart and really well received by the attendees at the Almiya (bottled water) forum. The Qatrah Awards evening was spectacular, with entertainment from whirling dervishes, dancers, plus an incredibly talented illusionist; to cap it all, we qualified as a finalist in the 2nd Annual Qatrah Awards as Best Bottled Water of the year 2008.

It was a really proud moment hearing Aquapax being listed as one of the top 3 finalists in the best bottled water category for 2008, along with big budget Evian and local favourite Al Ain (purified water) – and you could have knocked me over with a feather (quite literally) when Aquapax was then announced as the Winner of the Best Bottled Water of the Year 2008…

How did that happen, I asked myself, while silently giving thanks to the entire universe as I walked up on stage to take the spectacular glass trophy. Thank goodness I’d taken a suit along for the occasion; the chap from Red Bull hadn’t bothered, but I would have felt so embarrassed meeting the President of the Arab Beverage Association wearing anything less than a suit and tie.

To cap the whole trip off, I got to swim in the Persian Gulf for the first time – heck if I’m going to fly that far, there’s got to be some R&R time.

I haven’t exactly stopped since getting back, but that’s for another blog if I can squeeze one in tomorrow…

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