Insights from the Dubai Association Conference 2024

22nd January 2024

Dubai's biennial gathering has solidified its place as a key event within the association community. With the upcoming edition featuring crucial themes like artificial intelligence and strategies for managing disruptions, it is poised to be more pertinent and influential than ever before.

Words Remi Deve

Dubai Association Centre

The Dubai Association Centre (DAC), initiated in 2014 to streamline the licensing of professional societies and trade organizations, has evolved into a symbol of the rapid advancements achievable through collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors.

Functioning within the framework of Dubai’s business-friendly policies, Dubai has attracted foreign business and investment with free-trade zones, zero income tax, and favorable corporate taxation. But beyond its economic endeavors, the city is actively transitioning into a knowledge-based economy, with DAC exemplifying this progress by supporting associations that contribute to educational and professional standards, engage with regulators for sustainable development, and serve as a talent attractor.

Operated as a joint initiative by Dubai Chambers, Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, and Dubai World Trade Centre, DAC facilitates the establishment of associations in Dubai, offering a formal setting for organizations to create a membership-based community or open a regional representative office. Despite challenges over the last years, DAC has seen continuous growth, with over 70 licensed associations as of November 2023, underscoring its pivotal role in fostering a thriving association ecosystem in Dubai.

Visit to find out more about DAC

Every two years, delegates from associations based in the Middle East and beyond indeed gather in the city for the Dubai Association Conference. This flagship event is orchestrated by the Dubai Association Centre (DAC), which acts a gateway to the world’s fastest growing economies — offering an ideal setting for global associations to expand within industries and sciences. The upcoming 2024 edition, slated for February 27-28, is themed ‘Value Amplified: Associations Empowering Change.’

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, the Dubai Association Conference is set to offer an influential platform, bringing together sector leaders and experts globally to underscore the crucial role played by associations. Beyond meeting the needs of their members, these organizations are recognized as catalysts for positive change within their communities and broader societies.

Presented by the Dubai Association Centre and hosted at the Dubai World Trade Centre, the upcoming 2024 edition is poised to delve into cutting-edge strategies, exemplary practices, and collaborative methodologies. Tailored for association executives and influential stakeholders with pivotal roles in leadership and management—including government officials and strategic partners—the conference is designed to yield concrete and enduring benefits for communities and societies. With a specific focus on immediate civic, economic, and social development in the region, DAC seeks to make a meaningful impact.

What to expect

Mike Van der Vijver, DAC program curator and event designer, explains what associations can expect in February: “The Dubai Association Conference’s program for this year is shaped by insights gathered from purposeful interviews with association executives. The sessions will focus on current, high-priority topics such as AI applications for associations, work-life balance, and strategies for dealing with disruptive events. One groundbreaking session will explore handling disruptions from both external and internal sources.”

The program will prioritize interactive sessions and open dialogue, fostering robust participation from all delegates.

“Additionally, participants will engage in assessing and establishing the impact and value created by events, taking a strategic approach to understand their contributions to association goals. This conference aims to provide a concise yet impactful experience for attendees, addressing key challenges and fostering strategic thinking in association management,” Van der Vijver says.

In previous iterations of the Dubai Association Conference, critical themes and priorities for associations were dissected, drawing global experts and solidifying Dubai’s ascendance as a hub for associations. The inaugural 2017 event, themed ‘Building a Community,’ set a strong foundation, while the 2019 edition crafted a compelling program under the banner ‘Driving Change: The Societal Impact of Associations.’ The 2022 conference centered around ‘Associations and the New World: Resilience & Reinvention.’ Notably, DAC forged a strategic partnership with the American Society of Association Executives, bringing in a distinguished group of top executives led by ASAE President and CEO, Michelle Mason.

His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism and Dubai World Trade Centre Authority, said: “Through the Dubai Association Centre Conference, the city has consistently demonstrated a commitment to not only developing a vibrant association community here, but also offering a platform to navigate change and forge new paths for the sector globally. As Dubai’s own economy continues to evolve to meet the goals of the Dubai Economic Agenda – D33 – the city will provide an ideal setting to explore the theme around empowering change, and we look forward to once again welcoming global leaders and experts, as well as stakeholders from across the region, to embrace a collaborative spirit.”

Visit to find out more about the event

Hit enter to search or ESC to close