Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau
ESTABLISHED IN March, 2013,
Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau drives and supports the development and promotion of business events throughout the emirate efficiently, effectively, and transparently, and in partnership with all its stakeholders.
Its main mission is to champion the emirate as a dynamic global business events leader.
Significant strides to this end were made in 2016 via numerous bids to host a number of key conferences in the coming years.
In total, the Bureau successfully submitted successful applications along with partners and stakeholders to host 14 conferences which are expected to attract more than 35,000 delegates.
“The Convention Bureau recorded a record-breaking 2016 making significant strides in attracting business into the emirate by leading and supporting bids to host a number of key conferences,” Al Shamisi says. “We are targeting conferences, congress and association meetings from sectors identified as pillars of the 2030 Vision; education, healthcare, transport, energy and sustainability.
A key objective is bringing Government, public and private sectors together under a ‘one Abu Dhabi’ for bid developments; also driving development of an ambassador programme and encouraging UAE participation in international associations.”
Europe & Middle East Outlook (EME): To this end, how would you say Abu Dhabi has developed in recent years as a business travel hub and what are the key reasons behind its growing appeal?
Mubarak Al Shamisi (MAS): While we are continuing to work on long-term bids - up to 2025 - we are getting quite a few short-term leads. We are seeing an increase in regional meetings coming to Abu Dhabi as well. We are also seeing a real interest from International
Associations looking to expand their activities and membership base in the region. Business Tourism has been identified as a primary segment of a holistic strategy for Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector which could lead to up to four percent GDP contribution by 2021, and MICE growth of seven percent.
Abu Dhabi will focus on regional markets and maintain its current share from nearby source markets that are experiencing large growth which could yield 660,000 visitors per year by 2021.
EME: In line with this, how have the influence and saturation of business events grown in Abu Dhabi in recent years and what makes the city so appealing to prospective events?
MAS: Recent statistics from the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) show that the number of association meetings taking place in the emirate has grown steadily from four in 2005 to 35 in 2015, catapulting the UAE capital into 73rd place of the MICE industry’s leading industry ranking. The city is becoming more appealing to prospective events as it strives to become a world-class destination, attracting record numbers of guest arrivals. In 2016 Abu Dhabi welcomed 4.4 million hotel guest arrivals - a sixth consecutive record and this year is aiming to attract 4.9 million guest arrivals. EME: What are the biggest events to have been held in Abu Dhabi in the past, and the main events expected to take place in the city in the future?
MAS: Major bids supported and won in 2016 include the hosting of the Special Olympics in 2019, which is expected to attract 10,000 participants, the International Conference in Medicine & the Healthcare Professions - Ottawa Conferences in 2018, and the World Obesity Federation - Gulf Regional Conference on Obesity in 2017.
Other significant bids won in 2016 related to medicine include the 6th Congress of the World Union of Wound Healing Societies, which will attract an estimated 6,000 professionals to Abu Dhabi in 2020 and the Wonca World Conference 2020, which specialises in family medicine which will also be held in 2020 with around 4,000 delegates.
Among the key events earmarked for the emirate this year are World
Skills, the world’s largest vocational skills competition, which is set to take place in October in Abu Dhabi with
7,000 young participants anticipated from 76 countries. In December, up to 15,000 members of the global diabetes community will converge in the emirate to take part in the International Diabetes Federation 2017 Congress. 2018 will also be another busy year for the emirate as the Bureau continues its momentum with the hosting of the World Roads Congress and the World Energy Congress.