Looking to a Sustainable Future & Beyond

10th February 2022

A renowned travel destination in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi is fast becoming popular in the global MICE industry. In recent years, the city has witnessed a considerable growth in meeting activities, with world-class meetings and events facilities inspiring association planners from around the world. Mubarak Al Shamisi, Director of Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau, tells Boardroom how the city is strategizing to become a world leader in the meetings industry.

Can you tell us about how Abu Dhabi is positioning itself as a destination? We understand you are home to headquarters of NGOs, the UN, you’re the capital of the UAE. So, you’re more on the ’serious’ side, we would say…

This is true. As the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is a dynamic, global business and events hub. Recognised world-wide as an attractive destination with a diverse portfolio of unique offerings and world-class infrastructure, Abu Dhabi is the ideal destination to act as host for conferences, business events and corporate groups. 

Abu Dhabi is a place of innovation, and unparalleled experiences, represented by its living traditions of hospitality, pioneering initiatives and creative thought. As the home to world-class hotels, dining and entertainment for those looking to network, as well as being within an accessible four-hour flight for a third of the world’s population, Abu Dhabi has the ability to host, plan and deliver high-profile events, and to accommodate a large number of delegates. This is something that we at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi are extremely proud of. 

As a knowledge capital, Abu Dhabi is strong in healthcare but also in creative industries, which might be lesser known. Can you elaborate? How does this give you a competitive edge?

The UAE has transformed over the last 50 years, and today the creative industries are key to the capital’s social and economic growth, as well as its diversification as a world-class destination. As emirate’s Department of Culture and Tourism, we are committed to attracting talented people and creative industries. Our five-year spending plan aims to develop new museums as well as invest in the performing arts, music, media and gaming sectors.

Having heavily invested in the arts, for example with the opening of architectural marvel and leading cultural attraction, Louvre Abu Dhabi, we continue to commit to drawing in visitors from all over the globe. This continued investment in the arts gives Abu Dhabi its cutting edge as a world class tourist and MICE destination.

We also aim to create thousands of jobs in the multimedia and gaming sectors over the coming years, significantly growing the current number of people employed in these sectors in Abu Dhabi today and enabling more families and professionals to make their lives here.  

Offering new MICE developments to cater to this growing creative sector, Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) recently announced expansion to boost its competitiveness and ability to attract and hold major international events for all sectors by building the largest exhibition hall in the MENA region.

You’re going to host COP28. How do you prepare for that? Is Abu Dhabi a sustainable destination?

Marking a significant milestone for the emirate and our country, we are extremely proud to be hosting world leaders in Abu Dhabi for the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in 2023. As strong supporters of the most important conference for climate, the UAE will put everything towards making COP28 a success. 

Abu Dhabi is globally recognised as an attractive MICE destination that is devoted to offering world-class hospitality and we will offer these capabilities to ensure that the conference runs smoothly whilst here in the UAE. 

Sustainability is hugely important to Abu Dhabi and DCT is committed to coming together globally on climate action. As a destination, we are ensuring that sustainability remains a key focus for everything we do, and are currently driving initiatives to continue our efforts. For example, we host and organise The World Future Energy Summitthe leading international event that aims to accelerate sustainability and the global transition to clean energy, as well as Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), a global platform for accelerating the world’s sustainable development. The week brings together a unique fusion of policy makers, industry specialists, technology pioneers and the next generation of sustainability leaders. 

Abu Dhabi is also home to the world’s largest solar panel power plan, Noor Abu Dhabi, and last year work on another record-breaking solar power project began, the Al Dhafra Solar Project, which will power 160,000 homes upon completion. It is scheduled for completion in 2022. As part of the 2030 vison, we are also looking to develop guidelines towards a sustainable MICE industry.

You’ve organized the Middle East hub of the last ICCA Congress – what does this mean for you as a destination?

Having Abu Dhabi Convention & Exhibition Bureau host the 60th ICCA Congress Middle East Regional hub program illustrated our commitment to delivering world-class and all-important conferences; positioning Abu Dhabi as an ideal destination in the UAE to host events of this kind due to its highly competitive, creative, and world-class business, tourism and meeting facilities. 

MICE tourism is strategic to Abu Dhabi; DCT Abu Dhabi has a 10-year strategy to grow and position the emirate as a global business events hub, with a goal to double the sector’s size by 2030. ADCEB continues to be an active driver of the MICE sector and offers financial and non-financial support towards strategic business events in Abu Dhabi. 

Working together with sector champions, ADCEB identifies and attracts relevant business events to be anchored or held in the capital. Occasionally leading or supporting the bidding process for suitable events, we hope to influence event organisers’ decision in launching their first-ever events or geo-clone their flagship events in Abu Dhabi. By focusing our efforts on this, we continue to ensure we are world-leading in the MICE sector, which is very important for driving Abu Dhabi’s growth as a destination. 

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