Dubai Business Events (DBE), the city’s official convention bureau, and the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), the global community and knowledge hub for the international association meetings industry, hosted the first ICCA Middle East International Meetings Forum from May 18-19, 2016 at Sofitel Downtown Dubai.
The forum attracted more than 180 regional and global meeting experts plus association meeting planners. The new ICCA Middle East Forum marks the start of an annual education programme leading to the 2018 ICCA Congress in Dubai.
The focus of the inaugural ICCA Middle East International Meetings Forum was to establish a platform for sharing knowledge and best practices that will be essential as the region’s meetings industries seek to align products and services with the rapidly evolving demands from international associations and corporations. ICCA has a Regional Office in the Middle East since 2012, which, with the assignment of new Regional Director Middle East Senthil Gopinath, moved to the new Dubai Association Centre at the beginning of this year.
The event was organised as a precursor to the 2018 ICCA Congress, which will see an expected 1,000 global event leaders descend on Dubai.
The forum attracted over 20 internationally renowned speakers and global meetings industry experts, who discussed global trends, the importance of destination teamwork and industry collaboration, and the competitiveness of the Middle East region as a stepping stone to booming markets in the Middle East and Africa. Speakers also shared strategies on bidding for international meetings and conferences in what has become an increasingly competitive world, as well as the need for training programmes capable of supporting and responding to future trends across the region.
Further insights into the region were shared by executives from four international associations, who shed further light on how the Middle East can leverage its competitiveness, maximise its growth potential, and increase its share of the global meetings market.
Steen Jakobsen, Director of Dubai Business Events, said: “The first ICCA Middle East International Meetings Forum was a tremendous success and we’re proud to have played a leading role in organizing the inaugural event. I personally look forward to see the Forum grow in strength in the coming years as the city gears up to host the ICCA Congress in 2018. Dubai has made no secret of its desire to create a world-leading knowledge-based economy and has demonstrated an exceptional ability to pioneer new ideas of its own as well as foster the exchange of ideas between countries and cities around the world.”
Ahmad Khalifa Al Falasi, CEO, corporate services and investment, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), said: “The first ICCA Middle East International Meetings Forum was a tremendous success and we’re proud to have played a leading role in organising the inaugural event. I personally look forward to seeing the forum grow in strength over the coming years, as the city gears up to host the ICCA Congress in 2018.”
ICCA CEO Martin Sirk said: “The Middle East is growing at a rapid pace and establishing this forum gives us the opportunity to connect the region with our global network of practitioners, allowing for knowledge sharing and understanding the needs of the meetings business in a deeper way. Ahead of the ICCA Congress coming to Dubai in 2018, we want to ensure that we build up interest and capacity together with our local members and partners in the region over the next two years.”