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Expat Expo ’07 – Kuala Lumpur

We just happened to be in Kuala Lumpur, commonly known as KL, sitting in an Irish pub (for a change!) when we spotted a copy of The Expat magazine. Having expat-related business ventures ourselves, although not Malaysia-based, naturally we were interested to read this glossy magazine – it turned out to be an excellent publication – and discovered that there was to be an Expat Expo in the nearby Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) on 29 and 30 September 2007.

Well, we were in KL on holiday, had no business materials with us, and no smart clothes. But we decided to go and have a look anyway, as we’re always interested in expat-related things. It was well worth while.

This was the first Expat Expo organised by The Expat, but the general consensus seemed to be that people hoped it would become an annual event. Certainly if it were to become one, we would make the effort to go next year. And we would be much better prepared!

The Expo was held in KLCC Exhibition Hall 4 from 10.00-20.00 on the two weekend days. On entering the Expo every visitor was given a large bag containing goodies such as a magazine, notebook and pen. The bag was also very handy for collecting the various brochures from the exhibitors. There were lots of pavilions, booths, and stands promoting products and services to expats and would-be expats.

  • Arts & Crafts
  • Banking, Investment, and Business Services
  • Furnishings and Domestic Products
  • Health and Beauty
  • Hotels and Tourism
  • MM2H (Malaysia My Second Home)
  • Property
  • Publishing
  • Schools
  • Other – this included things like classic cars, jewellery, photography, yachting-related products, and so on.

The place was buzzing while we were there and I got the impression that people were enjoying the chance to network, do business, and to learn about opportunities in Malaysia. We met lots of friendly and helpful people there, including the charming Theresa Giovagnoli, a director of the Allo’ Expat website. (I was embarrassed to be so unprepared for the Expo, not even having business cards with me, and probably appeared monosyllabic to her as, once I’d admitted that I was from britishexpat.com rather than trying to pose as a casual visitor, I just wanted to escape. Oh dear.) As I said, we’re hoping to go back next year if the Expo becomes an annual event.

So why would anyone want to visit such an event? Well, the Malaysian government has been actively promoting their MM2H programme. Unlike some of the neighbouring countries, like Thailand for example, which make it difficult for foreigners to stay long-term by setting so many traps of red-tape, the Malaysian government positively encourages people to make Malaysia their second home. Providing a foreigner meets certain qualifications, there’s a ten year visa available. For more info about MM2H, and the organisers of the Expo, see: www.mm2h.com .

In addition to the booths, there were lots of other things going on:

There was a series of seminars on various topics such as driving, diving, MM2H, tropical diseases, and property. There were classic and sports cars to admire – even if you can’t afford them!

Every visitor was invited to have a free foot spa and massage. There were other fun activities too, such as having your hands painted with henna patterns (a traditional art), crystal healing (whatever that is), and a caricaturist. We gave these a miss but there were plenty of takers.

There were wine tastings. Some rather nice wine too. We ended up buying a couple of bottles.

There was a café inside especially for the Expat Expo, where you could “eat and meet”. (There was also a nice café-restaurant, unrelated to the Expo, a few yards away from the conference centre where you could sit and have a smoke in the sun, as well as eat and drink of course.)

We were given free tickets for the prize draw, which had lots of good prizes from hotel stays to an expensive Persian carpet. (We didn’t win anything. Maybe next year…)

The Expat has always promoted local artists by featuring their paintings on their magazine covers. There was an art gallery with some of these original paintings – and the opportunity to buy them too. The magazine also had its own dedicated pavilion right in the middle of the hall where people could meet the team and ask questions or just chat. They were giving away free copies of the magazine there too, so we were able to take a couple of them home with us.

There was also a booth for various British, American, and Australian expat associations in KL.

And, of course, a booth for MM2H. This is a really important subject for anyone wanting to move to Malaysia. Andy Davison is the expert on this (he’s also the editor of The Expat, among other things). We didn’t have a chance to talk to him as he was invariably surrounded by eager Expo visitors – and anyway, we didn’t even have business cards on us. (Blush)

As you can see, there was a lot going on at the Expo. All in all, there were 11 pavilions, 60 booths, and 13 stands, in addition to the lecture theatre where the seminars were held.

In conclusion, if you are an expat in Malaysia, or interested in becoming one, this is THE event of the year. Don’t miss it!

For more info, or if you wish to register for next year’s event (looks as if there IS going to be one!) you can visit their website:
www.expatexpo.com.my

And you can find out more about The Expat at their website too:
The Expat

PG Author: Kay McMahon

Kay has been an expat for nearly 30 years. She set up the British Expat website back in early 2000, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)

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