Dubai takes MICE world by storm

As per the latest International Meetings Statistics Report by Union of International Associations, Dubai has moved up to the 10th spot from its previous rank 14 in the 2015 edition, with a total of 180 meetings taking place in 2016. TravTalk finds out from industry experts what it takes to be a leader in hosting MICE events at a destination.

DWTC has a sterling reputation in the global MICE and business industry, and is a strategic driver of economic growth, posting significant year-on-year increases in international business visitation and participation. With more than 500 events, DWTC’s strategy of content-driven growth is closely aligned with the Dubai Plan 2021. In 2016, DWTC hosted 3.03 million business delegates and attendees – including 45 per cent foreign business travellers from 185 countries – and attracted 51,711 exhibitors, of which nearly 70 per cent were international exhibitors. The growth in international participation is a result of DWTC’s ability to respond and react to a wide array of industries, event formats and client needs, which in turn results in DWTC events contributing approximately three per cent annually to Dubai’s GDP.

Ahmed Alkhaja, Senior Vice President-Venues, Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC)

With Dubai successfully winning the bid to host the World Expo in 2020, the growth rate of the MICE industry is expected to pass $1.39 billion and increase by 7 per cent each year until 2020. Considering these statistics and with Dubai being the leading premier business destination, the MICE sector holds a greater potential to grow further while attracting more foreign investments and creating more value for the economy. Realising its importance for the region, Pinnacle Middle East created the MICE Middle East Forum. In this year’s MICE Middle East Forum, we have 25 leading industry speakers, including two international speakers from World Expo & FIFA World Cup Organisation together, to deliver 19 powerful sessions, allowing our participants to be well equipped with the latest information.

Nayab Rafiq, CEO, Pinnacle Middle East

With the introduction of our Great Ballroom in 2015, in addition to the two existing ballrooms, we are focusing on MICE business. Events Hub at Le Meridien Dubai features 24 function rooms–all equipped with cutting edge audio-visual technology, 579 rooms and over 250 chefs from all over the world offering the versatility and variety sought by international MICE clients. With over 5500 square metres of events space, including one of the largest ballrooms in Dubai and an expert brigade of event specialists, makes the planning and execution seamless for event planners. Our conference and banqueting business has been on the growth trajectory since 2015, with an average annual increase of 40 per cent in revenues. Weddings is also our focus area apart from corporate events and MICE moving forward.

Shaun Parsons, General Manager, Le Meridien Dubai Complex

With these latest UIA rankings, it is once again clear that Dubai is now not only the regional leader in the sector, but also a major destination on the global stage for business events. We will continue to strengthen our business event offerings and strive towards transforming Dubai into a global knowledge hub.

Issam Kazim, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing

The prospects for the MICE industry are looking very bright. Indeed, the changing trends are clearly indicating that this sector is making a steady comeback as the world economy has started picking up. Meetings, exhibitions, events are essentially networking tools and will always be the cornerstones of successful businesses. What is needed here is to recognise the changing way in which the world is conducting business; trends which are influencing global economies; technological revolution, which is making its presence felt in the way in which events and meetings are being conducted. Assimilating these changes seamlessly and responding to it with strategic initiatives will only make this industry stronger.

Abdullah Aridi, Director, Sales & Operations, MICE Alpha Tours

The emerging trends include catering towards millennials who demand unique and unconventional experiences worthy of sharing on social media. We also need to keep abreast with technology as potential clients now expect information at their fingertips. Like all hospitality companies we face similar challenges such as global slowdown and socio-political instability. Our understanding of the markets and strategic planning means we aren’t caught unaware – we can adapt our sales, marketing, social media and PR campaigns to reach into existing and new markets as required. Our first-class MICE facilities attract customers from all over the world – Dubai is a flourishing success story and an ideal destination for meetings and events.

Tahir Ciyanci, Director of Sales Groups, Jumeirah Group

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