GIBTM: Middle East is fastest growing international meetings market

GIBTM: Middle East is fastest growing international meetings market

The Middle East is the fastest growing international association meeting market in the world according to an International Congress and Convention Association study which was revealed recently, coinciding with the eighth edition of Gulf Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings show.

Highlighting Abu Dhabi’s support for the meetings and incentive industry, HH Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, minister of culture, youth and community development and board member of the National Council of Tourism and Antiquities, attended the show.

Sultan Al Daheri, acting executive director of tourism sector, at the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority led the official opening tour at GIBTM earlier.

After the official tour, the International Congress and Convention Association which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012, issued a statistics report revealing that the total number of regularly-occurring, internationally-rotating association meetings is increasing by 100 per cent each decade and has been consistently doing so for the last 50 years, with no signs of a slowdown.

Commenting on the findings, Martin Sirk, chief executive of ICCA, which is the most global meetings industry association comprising almost 1,000 member companies and organisations in over 90 countries, said: “The Middle East joined the Information Revolution more recently than most regions, so it is not surprising to see some of the world’s fastest growth rates here, now that excellent meetings infrastructure has been developed, governments have created knowledge strategies to underpin their economic development agendas.

“We are confident that the region will enjoy even greater international meetings activity in the future, based on these underlying fundamentals.”

The report highlighted that between 1998 and 2002, there were 532 association meetings in the Middle East.

That figure had grown to 905 between 2003 and 2007 and then expanded once again between 2008 and 2012 to 1,776 association meetings. 

“The number of meetings in the Middle East has even grown even quicker than in other regions, it has more than tripled over the last decade,” said GIBTM exhibition manager Lois Hall.