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Geneva Motor Show could expand to more countries, despite Qatar controversy

Organisers behind Geneva held event in Qatar last year

(Geneva Motor Show)
Geneva Motor Show (Geneva Motor Show)

The organisers of the Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS) have said they could expand to more events in other countries, despite controversy surrounding an exhibition held in Qatar last year.

The Geneva Motor Show, previously one of the largest motor shows of its kind in Europe, was cancelled at the last minute in 2020 because of the coronavirus, with the event only returning to Switzerland this year following its hiatus.

However, organisers signed an agreement with Qatar Tourism to hold an event under its ‘GIMS’ name in 2021, with the event taking place in the country’s capital of Doha in October 2023.

Geneva Motor Show hangs in the balance as coronavirus crisis deepens
Geneva Motor Show Geneva Motor Show hangs in the balance as coronavirus crisis deepens

The move proved to be controversial, with Qatar’s reputation for human rights and treatment of migrant workers coming under fire, as was the case when the World Cup was held there in 2022.

However, Sandro Mesquita, chief executive of GIMS, said that while he understood why people were ‘disappointed’, that it was an ‘opportunity to grow’.

Mesquita told the PA news agency: “We know some people were disappointed with this choice [to hold the event in Qatar] and we understood that and accept all the opinions. For us, it was an opportunity to grow and go international and I can say that Qatar is evolving.”

(Geneva Motor Show)
The Geneva Motor Show is one of the biggest events on the automotive calendar (Geneva Motor Show)

He added that while Qatar was an “important partner” for the future it remained “independent”, quashing rumours that the event was only being held in Qatar because of the country’s known wealth.

Mesquita also hinted that the Geneva Motor Show brand could grow to other countries in the future, adding: “This is a collaboration [with Qatar} and maybe in the future we will have others. We now have a brand with two platforms, and maybe in the future we would have more.”

But the Geneva Motor Show itself returns to the Swiss city in February for the first time in five years. Previously it was attended by almost all major global car manufacturers, but this year only a handful of household names are present, including Renault, Dacia and MG, as many firms have snubbed the event. Organisers admit that it will be “more compact” but that it hopes to come back “bigger and better each year”.

MG is one of just a handful of firms that will have a stand at this year’s event.(MG)
MG is one of just a handful of firms that will have a stand at this year’s event.(MG) MG is one of just a handful of firms that will have a stand at this year’s event.(MG)

Mesquita added: “We strongly believe that the automotive industry is strong enough to have its own platform in Europe. There is a place for motor shows.

“GIMS will grow and 2024 is a restart after this pause. Since the beginning of the history of the show, we have been a mirror in the market, and we will continue to be. Each year we will have more and more brands that are leading the way for the automotive industry.”

The Geneva Motor Show is held at the Palexpo Exhibition Centre from February 26 to March 3.