Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Members Descendance, an Aboriginal dance group, perform at ADNEC earlier this year: the centre continues to draw a healthy number of visitors.
Members Descendance, an Aboriginal dance group, perform at ADNEC earlier this year: the centre continues to draw a healthy number of visitors.

Gulf's largest exhibition centre pulls in visitors

The Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre is experiencing a 20 per cent increase in visitor numbers despite the economic downturn

The Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) is experiencing a 20 per cent increase in visitor numbers despite the economic downturn as its developer pushes ahead with major expansion plans, which include a building that tilts more than the Tower of Pisa. The exhibition centre, the largest of its kind in the Gulf, is part of a broader Dh8 billion (US$2.17bn) "micro-city" development called Capital Centre, which ADNEC expects to attract 1.8 million visitors by the end of this year compared with 1.5 million last year.

"ADNEC is committed to expanding its economic impact on the local tourism industry," said Sanjay Tanna, the business development director at ADNEC. Capital Centre includes both residential and commercial elements including 23 hotels, a 2.4-kilometre marina and a 160-metre tower called Capital Gate, which will lean 18 degrees westward - 14 degrees more than the famous Italian structure. Capital Centre is expected to be completed in stages over the next three years, ADNEC said. Work has just been completed on the UAE's largest indoor auditorium at ADNEC, which will stage events such as concerts and is capable of seating 5,700 spectators.

The convention centre currently hosts exhibitions such as Cityscape Abu Dhabi and Gastech. More than 80 per cent of Abu Dhabi's tourists are business tourists, according to the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA). To that end, the ADTA hopes to expand its meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions industry as part of a wider plan to attract 2.3 million tourists by 2012. Such tourism currently accounts for just 10 per cent of the capital's total number of business travellers.

The ADTA launched an initiative called Advantage Abu Dhabi, which offers business event organisers funding and non-financial government support to bring their shows to the capital, earlier this year to attract business. "ADNEC has a very strong influence on Abu Dhabi's business tourism and therefore it influences the hotel market trends as well," Mr Tanna said. It will also have to battle concerns about costs in a global downturn. Abu Dhabi is the world's most expensive major destination, according to the Hotels.com hotel price index published last month.

ADNEC plans to open its first hotel, under Starwood Hotels' new Aloft brand, on October 25. The hotel is aimed at business travellers and includes a self-service check-in facility. The ADTA last week said that confidence in the capital's tourism industry had increased for the remainder of the year and for next year, driven largely by key events and exhibitions. In a survey of 120 local industry stakeholders, the authority found that the upcoming Formula One grand prix is playing a major part.

Aside from the events and exhibitions, positive influences included economic stability, reduced room prices, increased attractions and developments and better infrastructure and services. Participants in the survey expected the domestic UAE market to deliver strong business for the destination over the coming year, with Qatar and Saudi Arabia also identified as key markets. Meanwhile, the survey identified challenges such as increasing competition within Abu Dhabi's hotel markets, parking issues within the UAE capital, ongoing construction, a lack of visitor attractions within the destination and immigration and visa issues.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 Three generations of the Hakimi family tend to their stall Crawford Market in Mumbai. Subhash Sharma for The National

In pictures: Shopper’s delight at Crawford Market in Mumbai

Crawford Market is an old British-style covered market dealing in just about every kind of fresh food and domestic animal imaginable. Later on renamed Mahatma Jotirao Phule, the market remains popular among locals and visitors by its old name, taken from Arthur Crawford who was the first municipal commissioner of the city.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National