UAE is a ‘rising star’

ABU DHABI - The UAE has been declared as a “rising star” in the Middle East horizon by the meetings industry, which is bullish for the business this year.



The UAE and Qatar reached the top ranking for satisfaction, followed by Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the Middle East, according to the seventh IBTM Middle East Meetings Industry Research report that was released at the Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition, or GIBTM 2013, which opened here on Monday at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

The show was opened by Shaikh Sultan bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, and will run until tomorrow.

Destination-wise, buyers said the top six Middle East countries where they had staged events over the last 12 months were the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Qatar. According to the report, buyers are also on the look-out for new places to stage meetings and incentives, with 53 per cent expecting to increase the use of new destinations over the next 12 months.

Meetings industry professionals are bullish about 2013 prospects with a clear majority predicting more meetings, events and bigger budgets, The research report, conducted by Reed Travel Exhibitions IBTM portfolio and meetme, in association with The Right Solution, revealed that 68.5 per cent of Middle East buyers expect the volume of events to increase over the next 12 months, comparing favourably to 2012 when only 58.3 per cent of Middle East buyers said the volume of events had increased over the previous 12 months.

Middle East buyers and suppliers are also the most optimistic about the region’s outlook — 80 per cent of the 209 buyers surveyed, 100 of whom were based in the region, said conference and events business placed in the Gulf, Middle East and North Africa, or Gmena region, would grow exponentially over the next 12 months.

“The Middle East meetings industry is already robust and it comes as no surprise that confidence in future industry growth is also improving, which indicates that 2013 should be a successful year for the industry,” said GIBTM exhibition manager Lois Hall, who presented the research findings in conjunction with NPI’s Rob Nicholas at the show. “The bullish buyer and supplier sentiments revealed in the IBTM report are reflected in the success of this year’s GIBTM, which welcomes 70 brand-new exhibitors to the show floor, translating to an eight per cent increase in show space taken,” added Hall.

The 210 suppliers surveyed, 75 per cent of whom were based in the Gmena with the remainder conducting business in the region, were even more bullish, with 70.5 per cent expecting a hike in the number of events staged over the next 12 months and 66 per cent confident of more meetings and incentives business being placed.

While budget constraints are still keeping grip on the purse strings in many markets globally, 59.4 per cent of Middle East buyers anticipate budget increases over the next 12 months, compared to 50.9 per cent of buyers last year.

Fast-paced technological innovation was identified by 47 per cent of buyers surveyed as the key trend currently having the greatest impact on the meetings and events sector locally and globally and social media was pinpointed as the most common technology implemented, used as a means to engage with delegates before, during and after a meeting or event.

haseeb@khaleejtimes.com


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