Expo 2020 brought positivity, new events to UAE, experts say

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Abu Dhabi - Future looks optimistic for the MICE industry.


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Mon 25 Oct 2021, 9:37 PM

Last updated: Mon 25 Oct 2021, 10:10 PM

The Expo 2020 Dubai has brought a lot of positivity and the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) industry in the UAE and region is poised to grow with several new events added to the 2022 calendar, said experts in Abu Dhabi.

“There is a lot of positivity with the start of Expo. Two months back our forecast said 2022 will be a tough year but now the situation is getting better,” said Mahir Abdulkarim Julfar, executive vice president, Venue Services Management, Dubai World Trade Centre.

He revealed that for an event where 1,500 delegates were expected, now got 4,000.

“The reality is better than forecast,” he said during the inaugural Abu Dhabi Business Events Week.

Julfar said Dubai will be hosting many new events after the Expo.

“Dubai hosts above 20 per cent (of the events) from the region. But things have changed since 2019. From 2016 to 2019, Dubai has launched a lot of new events. And now with the additional space, exhibition halls like the Dubai Exhibition Centre, which is at the Expo site, right after the Expo, we will be managing that space as well. So, in terms of capacity we will have 50 per cent more space, which means we will be hosting more events,” he told Khaleej Times.

“Q4 of 2021 is packed. Q1 of 2022 has some big events coming. We are looking at how to increase the business right after the Expo, which ends in March. We have got a strategy on how to create new and bigger events, and expand the sector of exhibitions in Dubai.”

Mubarak Al Shamsi, director, Abu Dhabi Convention and Exhibition Bureau, Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, revealed that the UAE Capital will be hosting six new world-class events in 2022.

“The MICE industry in Abu Dhabi is one of the most important pillars of the tourism sector. We work very closely with our stakeholders locally and internationally in order to develop, create and position Abu Dhabi as an important destination and hub for important business events,”

“We have a very long and strong line-up of business events throughout the year in Abu Dhabi. The new shows, six of them, are the events that Abu Dhabi won the rights to,” Al Shamsi told Khaleej Times.

Al Shamsi underlined that the hosting of IDEX – the only international defence exhibition and conference in the Mena region – set the stage for return of events in Abu Dhabi and the region.

“We wanted to make it happen. It was held very successfully. We are seeing a lot of events happening now in the region.”

Meanwhile, Khalid Al Zadjali, director, Oman Convention Bureau, pointed out that with robust vaccination drives and world-class infrastructure to host events, the countries in the region must focus on local rather than international events.

“International business is important but we need to focus also on the regional market. The major challenge is that we don’t have a clarity on what to expect in the next 2-3 years and that’s why we need to focus on the region. The region is the best case-study for the world,” Al Zadjali said.

Debbie-Stanford Kristiansen, general manager, ASM Global, pointed out that the future is optimistic for the MICE industry.

“We have to create the right environment for bringing people together. Exciting times are ahead despite the challenges. The future is very bright. The industry is going full steam ahead. We have suffered a lot in the last two years and now we are going to move upwards.”

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