When it comes to organizing events, safety is one of the first factors considered. Infrastructure is a close second. Conveniently located within a four- to seven-hour radius of major cities in Europe, Asia and Africa, these are just two of the many areas Abu Dhabi has capitalized on over the past few years as it attracts more and more business professionals and associations for conferences in the UAE capital.
Earlier this year, Abu Dhabi was deemed the safest city in the world by Numbeo, a research website specializing in crowd sourced global data. The capital was also recognized internationally in 2017 by TomTom Traffic Index Awards for its resilient traffic infrastructure. “These achievements are a reflection of our continuous efforts to uplift the customer experience by closely monitoring the trends that affect the MICE sector and responding to the changes in close coordination with our partners and stakeholders,” explained Mubarak Al Shamisi, Director of the Abu Dhabi Convention and Exhibition Bureau (ADCB), during an interview with Boardroom at IBTM World in Barcelona in November. “Abu Dhabi has developed tremendously over the past decade, providing excellent tourism facilities, world-class hospitality venues, convenient transport options, and a stable, safe social environment.”
With Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030, the Emirate aims reduce its economic reliance on oil and gas and develop world-class MICE infrastructure. Not only is the city capable of supporting and sustaining the anticipated levels of economic growth, it wants to also seeks to leverage business events as a catalyst for that growth. “Business tourism plays a significant role in economic growth, yielding substantial financial benefits and contributing to the achievement of a functioning and sustainable economy,” said Al Shamisi. “In fact, several reports have stated that the MICE industry specifically creates more jobs than some of the largest industries, including manufacturing, telecommunications, and oil and gas. On that account, MICE is unarguably a major economic player, capable of revitalizing an economy.”
In 2017, the city was acknowledged as the “Leading Overseas Luxury MICE Destination” during the China Travel and Meeting Industry Awards. Since debuting in 2013, the ADCB has boosted the city’s key sectors, attracting associations and conferences in areas like oil and gas, petrochemicals, aviation, aerospace and defence, pharmaceuticals, tourism and culture, healthcare, transportation, education, media, financial services, and telecommunications services.
“I think it’s very important to showcase what is the Middle East is capable of today,” said Al Shamisi. “Abu Dhabi has really come a long way in terms of association business, and I think we will help the UAE as a whole. Maybe we do not have as large of a percentage of association events like in North America or Europe, but we are making steps toward that and we represent a significant potential growth in the near future.”
In 2020, the ADCB will introduce a few strategies to help grow the MICE sector, in addition to hosting a few major events like the World Urban Forum, World Wound Healing Congress, and the World Congress for Nephrology, which will bring together thousands of delegates in the city. “Medical association events are strong and definitely no. 1 for us, but energy-related associations are also very important, as well as industries like infrastructure, transport, and innovation,” Al Shamisi said, referring to the 11-source model geared toward the Emirate’s 11 key industries. “The government of Abu Dhabi recognizes the opportunities within the industry and continues to invest significantly in this regard, as the potential for the capital of the UAE to become the ultimate destination for MICE activities is up-and-coming.”
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