Abu Dhabi is readying to welcome the World Ophthalmology Congress 2012, which will run at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from February 16-20 and will be the largest convention ever to be held in the UAE capital with some 10,000 - 12,000 attendees from 136 countries.
The congress, and an associated sector specific exhibition, will take up all halls at the ultra-modern ADNEC and its meeting rooms. The industry-only exhibition alone will feature 180 organisations, will be spread over 11,000 square metres, and is being supported and attended by the Presidents and CEOs of some of the world’s biggest medical companies.
The arrival of World Ophthalmology Congress 2012 is being seen as a milestone in Abu Dhabi’s evolution as a world-class destination for major international conventions and meetings and the UAE capital is going all out to make a distinctive first impression.
The success of Woc2012’s journey to Abu Dhabi, which actually began almost six years ago when authorities first became aware of the opportunity to bid to be host city, was paramount as this would be seen by other major convention organisers as the destination’s ‘acid test.’
Following a competitive pitch, Abu Dhabi’s collaborative bid, which featured leading stakeholders from throughout the emirate, won the day. It was, according to HRH Prince Abdul Aziz Ahmad Al Saud, Chairman of the Middle East Africa Council of Ophthalmology and member of the Board of Directors of the International Council for Ophthalmology Foundation, an approach which set the destination apart.
“The over-riding factor in Abu Dhabi’s selection was its total destination approach in which various government organisations came together to produce what can only be described as an impressive, consolidated and convincing bid,” HRH told media at the time of selection.
For Abu Dhabi the task was now to deliver on its promise and live up to the vote of confidence. No-one was more aware of the challenge of meeting expectations than HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, who chairs Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company.
Sheikh Sultan charged the Host City Steering Committee with delivering total support for the congress logistics with numerous organisations working in unison. In the frame, alongside the tourism authorities were the UAE Ministry of Interior; Department of Transport Abu Dhabi; ADNEC; Abu Dhabi Police; Heath Authority Abu Dhabi; Municipality of Abu Dhabi city and Abu Dhabi Airports Company. The private sector weighed in with preferential delegate discounts at the city’s golf courses and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi while Etihad Airways, the UAE’s national airline, also offered discounted delegate fares. Medical students from throughout the UAE are being offered complimentary access.
“We want to deliver the smoothest possible operation as this congress will be a powerful credential going forward as we bid for other large-scale meetings,” said Sheikh Sultan.
And with around 85% of WOC2012 delegates making their first visit to Abu Dhabi – the chance to establish lasting positive impressions had not gone unnoticed.
“Everyone has been totally committed to showing the destination at its very best,” said Mubarak Al Nuaimi, who led the steering committee’s organising sub-committee.
The result has been free visas for 1,500 attendees, branded shuttle buses to ferry delegates to and from 31 official hotels to WOC2012 venues, welcome adverts and welcome counters at Abu Dhabi International Airport, and welcome adverts on approach bridges to the UAE capital, on LED screens throughout the city and on the countdown board on the Corniche and even a shuttle service from ADNEC on February 17 for Muslim attendees who want to join the local community in Friday prayers at the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
At ADNEC, delegates will be given a taste of the emirate with a heritage village where they will be able to come face-to-face with falcons and their owners, sample henna designs, tastes locally-made food and find out more about Abu Dhabi’s engaging culture and traditions.
“We are very much aware of the importance of delivering an outstanding ‘first impression’,” added Al Nuaimi.