Abu Dhabi in MICE focus

Abu Dhabi in MICE focus

Abu Dhabi city will later this month host two major international meetings initiatives which will further propel the emirate’s business events ambitions.

First off is the inaugural C&IT Middle East Forum -  organised by the UK’s Conference + Incentive Travel magazine, which will run from September 29-30 at Yas Marina Circuit – home to November’s F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hosted by Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau and Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, the forum will bring 40 key UK senior level event buyers and professional MICE organisers – all of which have a minimum budget of £150,000 to spend in the Middle East – and 20 suppliers to the UAE capital.

“The forum will include strategic level discussion of Abu Dhabi as a business events destination, examine the experience and explore opportunities of holding a meeting, opening up a chapter, or doing association business in the emirate and the wider region,” explained Mubarak Al Nuaimi, Director Promotions and Overseas Offices, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), the parent organisation of Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau.

“We hope to dispel reservations and misconceptions about doing business in the region and instead hammer home the distinct opportunities we hold out and to get the message across about the incentives our bureau can provide to make meetings in the emirate highly affordable and successful.”

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The Forum will also see key Abu Dhabi stakeholders network with the C&IT forum delegates to put forward their offering to meeting planners, incentive houses and conference organisers.

Al Nuaimi says the C&IT tie-up is seen as “invaluable” in penetrating the UK corporate events market.  “This magazine’s monthly readership spans 18,500 UK corporate events planners and buyers, including the event heads of some of Britain’s largest blue chip organisations who uses it as an informed guide to help them decide where to hold their next conference, incentive or meeting. The readership has a combined annual spend of over €8.5 billion and is responsible for organising corporate meetings all over the world, with over 4,000 currently organising meetings in the Middle East and Africa.”

Abu Dhabi stakeholders have the chance of exhibiting at the forum and arranging pre-scheduled interviews with selected buyers.

Meanwhile, from September 29 to October 2, the emirate will host the Council Meeting of the prestigious International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO), which will include a dedicated, free-to-attend education event for Abu Dhabi stakeholders. IAPCO represents 116 professional organisers, meeting planners and managers of international and national congresses, conventions and special events from 39 countries. Being hosted by TCA Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), the council will push the emirate’s congress credentials to the fore while allowing stakeholders to benefit from members’ vast experience.

“IAPCO has put together as powerful education programme which will give stakeholders a greater understanding of the global market place for international association meetings, the latest industry trends, will give them tips on bidding for major business with case studies on winning pitches,” explained Al Nuaimi.

TCA Abu Dhabi believes the imminent initiatives are rare opportunities for its growing stakeholder base to get right in front of the bookers and sell them the benefits of hosting their events in the emirate.

“It’s all part of our strategy to boost business events, which includes securing six major business wins this year, a further eight next year and a total of 10 wins during 2015. Alongside this we will also be courting organisers of smaller meetings and of incentives,” said Mohammed Al Dhaheri, Strategy & Policy Director, TCA Abu Dhabi.

“We believe we now have a compelling case for Abu Dhabi with competitive room rates, superb hotel and resort inventory, cutting-edge facilities, innovative venues, added value offers and upscaled service delivery.

“Through IAPCO we will reach an extended data-base, the members of which organise in excess of 6,500 meetings annually, totaling some 2.5 million delegates and representing an economic impact in the region of 4.15 billion Euros,” explained Al Dhaheri.

Abu Dhabi has an ambitious blueprint for developing its business events industry. Already ranking among the top 100 busiest global meetings destinations in the International Congress and Convention Association’s (ICCA) 2012 global cities league, it is now looking to leapfrog into the top 50 within five years. Earlier this year TCA Abu Dhabi launched its dedicate Abu Dhabi Conventions Bureau – a one-stop-resource-shop for meetings planners to spearhead its business events drive. The bureau has upgraded its Abu Dhabi Advantage incentive benefits to create a compelling meetings proposition for event buyers.

Abu Dhabi’s aggressive business events drive is already paying dividends with a number of high profile meetings scheduled for the emirate. In November, the International Conference on Neurology & Epidemiology comes to Jumeirah at Etihad Towers with 600 to 800 of the most eminent practitioners in these specialised fields. In December, the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum arrives at the five-star Rosewood Abu Dhabi on Al Maryah Island as regional cruise industry officials, and itinerary planners of the major lines meet to discuss the sector’s future. Also in December, FTI Touristik, the market-leading tour operator for Germany, Austria and Switzerland – will bring 150 of its top selling German travel agents to Abu Dhabi for a sales appreciation incentive and educational workshop programme – its first outside of Europe.

Studies commissioned by TCA Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) suggest the economic impact from business events in Abu Dhabi will increase by approximately 7% per annum on average up until 2020 based on historic performance.