Want to know what organising a large scale business conference feels like? Just ask Sabine Enthammer, executive director conferences of IIR Middle East. Enthammer, who put together one of the most inspiring list of speakers for the upcoming Entrepreneurs in Dubai conference ...

By Duane Fonseca

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Published: Wed 18 May 2005, 12:49 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:21 PM

which begins on May 23, prefers to describe the entire process as very, very exciting.

The three-day event has, so far, succeeded in attracting over 800 delegates from business establishments situated in and around the Middle East and will feature the likes of Dame Anita Roddick (Founder of The Body Shop) and Senator John Edwards (Former North Carolina Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate), Stelios Haji-Ioannou (Founder and chairman of easyGroup (UK) Ltd.), Shaikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan (Founder and chairman of Bin Zayed Group of Companies), Sir Christopher Evans (Founder and chairman of Merlin Biosciences Ltd.), Tim Sebastian (Renowned British journalist and former BBC Hardtalk presenter) and Donald Trump (Chairman and president of The Trump Organisation), who will give his speech via video cast.

A total of 33 speakers, including the above, have been confirmed for the event, which is bound to provide important information on a large number of topics ranging from marketing to leadership, family businesses to winning global markets.

Speaking about the process of organising an event this big, Enthammer says, "We started planning for this conference roughly about right months ago, last October. Putting it together was quite a difficult thing to do because of the number of delegates that we wanted to cater to and the profile and number of speakers we wanted to bring to Dubai. I have been organising events, but have never done something this big before. You're bound to feel a little lost because you won't really know where to start from and who are the people you really need to be approaching. I had asked a few colleagues whom they would like to see at the conference and got quite a comprehensive list, the most popular being Sir Richard Branson and Donald Trump, and then we conducted some research to learn the tastes of local business people. Once the list of speakers was ready, it took us a good two months to contact all of the speakers and confirm them for the event."

"Basically, an event of this size requires a lot of time and planning and needs a great team to work with because you need to take care of a lot of things like the event's marketing, the logistics required, research and many other departments. But there is a secret to getting speakers to come and talk. Once you've confirmed some of the bigger names, all you have to do is tell it to the other speakers and trying to convince them to come and speak becomes much, much simpler. The speakers are people who are well-off, so money doesn't really matter when it comes to sharing their experiences. They are coming here with the intention of giving valuable advice and not just to make money."

Marketing the event for entries wasn't too much of a hassle thanks to IIR extensive international database. "Our company does a lot of conferences and that's why we have been able to maintain a strong database because of the companies in the neighbouring region too. So, approaching people for the event and getting them interested in it wasn't too much of a trouble."

The event has been planned meticulously and none of the days can be considered more important than the other. Enthammer explains, "The conference has been spread out nicely and to balance things and make each of the days interesting, topics and speakers had to be carefully chosen from those available. Another unique aspect of this conference is that it has been sceduled to run alongside an exhibition promoting small and medium-sized businesses within the country. After realising that a large part of our audience comprised of entrepreneurs, who could be interested in some of the products and services available here, we thought it would be a good place for visitors and local businesspeople to come together."

With that kind of a programme on the cards, the event seems to be on the right track. And if it's a hit, no one will be happier than excited Enthammer.

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