Opening of £165m extension at ExCel venue underlines commitment to international conferences and conventions market to help ADNEC expand its business tourism sector.
London shows the way for ADNEC
LONDON // Abu Dhabi is targeting the £100 billion (Dh550.65bn) international conferences and conventions market to help it expand its business tourism sector. Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, and Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, the chairman of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC), yesterday inaugurated the £165 million extension of the ExCel London venue.
The site includes the International Convention Centre with a 5,000 seat auditorium, as well as other facilities and will be one of the main host venues for the 2012 Olympics. ADNEC bought the exhibition centre in 2008 for Dh2.3bn. Mr Johnson said at the opening of the centre: "The biggest and most productive business we could be in now it seems to me is the import and export of people. Here is a facility to attract the best business brains of the world ? and leave London, hopefully with their wallets considerably lighter. I want particularly to congratulate ADNEC for this fantastic investment. I do believe it will pay off. "I think London has every possible civilised amenity and every uncivilised amenity. We have more museums than Paris, twice as many bookshops as New York, in addition to the fact that you're four times as likely to be murdered in New York. But until today, we did not have a great, international convention centre."
Sheikh Sultan, who is also the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), said the investments in ExCeL showed commitment to the global events industry. "ExCeL is a cornerstone for the development of the ADNEC brand, helping to open new trade links to the UAE capital and promoting it to the world," he said. The venue is to be of strategic importance in the growth of London's business tourism. In the development of Abu Dhabi as a destination, ADTA has made this sector a significant part of its ambitions to attract more visitors to the emirate.
"Despite the global downturn, we have not held back," Sheikh Sultan said. "Two years on from our investment in ExCeL, we have made considerable progress. The synergies we identified have been successfully leveraged. ExCeL has staged a number of global events including last year's G20 summit." He said the centre would also help strengthen links between the UAE and the UK. "The ties between us are to be enhanced over the next five years with our two governments looking to boost bilateral trade by more than 60 per cent by 2015." ADNEC is considering opportunities to expand further internationally, particularly in India and central Asia. Rohit Talwar, the chief executive of Fast Future, the London-based consultancy, which is conducting research on the future of meetings, conventions and exhibitions, said: "In the newer, fast growth and emerging economies, the conventions market is increasingly seen as a critical tool in attracting business tourism and facilitating domestic growth."