x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Spending boost for exhibitions across Gulf

There will be more conferences and events in the Middle East this year, thanks to increased state spending across the Gulf.

Increased government spending across the Arabian Gulf is expected to drive demand for exhibitions and conferences throughout the region this year.

As the fifth Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition gets under way in the capital, the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) and Al Ain Centre are between them projected to host 389 events this year, up from 360 last year.

The Emirates and Qatar share the first spot as most favourable destinations for events, followed by Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, according to the seventh IBTM Middle East Meetings Industry Research report, released at the business exhibition.

About 59 per cent of Middle East buyers, such as travel agents and event planners, expect their budgets to rise over the next year, compared with 51 per cent of buyers last year, according to the report.

The mean buyer budget for an event in Middle East for this year is US$193,595 (Dh711,132). Saudi Arabia has the highest spending rate at $627,500. In the UAE, it is $525,000, with Dubai at $442,308, while in Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman and Fujairah, the rate is $25,000.

About 80 per cent of the 209 global buyers surveyed, including 100 in the region, expect the volume of events to increase, compared with 58.3 per cent last year.

"The infrastructure is becoming world-class, hotels and purpose-built convention centres such as Adnec, and growth of specialised associations" are the key reasons, said Martin Sirk,the chief executive of the International Congress and Convention Association, which is based in the Netherlands.

The association, which opened a Dubai office last September, has 1,000 members in 90 countries.

Dubai's new business strategy, to attract international associations to set up offices in the emirate under the umbrella of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry would also help the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions sector.

Growth of the middle class and enormous hunger for accreditations by various local organisations were also fuelling the sector, Mr Sirk said.

"As the level of optimisation goes up, expect more meetings and more money being spent on marketing."

The busy sectors include energy, including non-conventional energy, health care, high-tech mobile, education and research sectors, especially the universities, as countries such as Qatar and the UAE vie to attract world-class institutions.

The World Diabetes Congress held in Dubai in 2011 and the World Dental Congress in 2007, also in Dubai, point to the business potential in these areas, Mr Sirk said.