The OCEC’s strategic location, just five minutes from the airport and surrounded by top-tier hotels like JW Marriott and Crowne Plaza, positions it as a central hub for global events. It serves as a cornerstone in Oman’s ambitious Vision 2040, aiming to shift from oil and gas dependency to a diversified economy, with a focus on tourism, renewable energy, and sustainable practices.
CEO Said Al Shanfari says: “Our aspirations are steered by Oman Vision 2040, a strategic framework that places emphasis on cultivating a diversified, dynamic, and globally integrated economy. This vision underscores the significance of advancing human resource development, fostering an efficient and competitive private sector, and propelling growth through non-hydrocarbon sources. The goal is to create a robust economic landscape that is resilient, forward-looking, and less reliant on traditional hydrocarbon sectors.”
As far as the venue itself is concerned, Al Shanfari emphasizes the OCEC’s unique identity, often referred to as the “palace,” capturing the essence of Oman’s rich culture and hospitality. “The venue’s design reflects the country’s beauty, connecting visitors to the local heritage with small, thoughtful details,” he says.
The OCEC’s overarching strategy aligns with Oman’s vision, attracting international conventions and events to showcase the nation’s warm hospitality.
As part of Oman’s initiative to become zero carbon by 2050, the OCEC has achieved Gold LEED certification, emphasizing eco-friendly practices, including solar panels and plans for a major solar project. The venue also incorporates various green initiatives, including various waste or water management systems and a honey bee farm, contributing to the broader goal of being carbon neutral.
Now – more than ever – client requirements, and the business events industry as a whole, are attentive to the way venues and destinations act with an environmentally sustainable approach. “Our commitment to sustainability has definitely helped us expand our competitive advantage on the international stage and place Oman on the map as an emerging hub for business events,” says Al Shanfari.
Drivers for growth
Business events are drivers for growth, and the OCEC is playing an instrumental role in this. “Approximately 25% of the OCEC’s revenue comes from conventions, and the aim is to increase this to 50% by attracting more international events”, says Al Shanfari, who emphasizes the importance of showcasing Oman’s authenticity, uniqueness, and cultural richness to the world.
If the long-term benefits of hosting events are not necessarily a given for everybody, Al Shanfari remains persistent. He believes in the multiplier effect of the meetings industry, creating jobs, fostering opportunities, and contributing significantly to the economy.
Oman’s assets extend beyond traditional sectors like oil and gas, with a growing focus on IT security, renewable energy, and medical advancements. The nation’s commitment to being a major player in green hydrogen production aligns with its efforts to position itself as a global destination for sustainability-focused events.
Looking forward, Al Shanfari envisions Oman as a hidden gem, an undiscovered destination for business events. He aims to make MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) a vital segment of Oman’s tourism portfolio. Business events, indeed, are not only about room nights and coffee cups, it’s also about leaving a legacy, about driving change for the years to come.
With a fervent commitment to promoting the country’s unique offerings, the OCEC stands as a pivotal player in Oman’s emergence as a global business events destination.