Among the Emirates, Abu Dhabi, is to me the most authentic and most attractive. Been in most of them and sofar Abu Dhabi is on my top for its attractivity, cultural proposals, and for the perfect blend of Abu Dhabi’s rich heritage, history, and unique event venues locations. Very important to me is the rich collection of luxury-brand chain hotels, opulent boutique hotels, which makes it as the perfect destination for a professional and exotic location for an event. And a direct flight from Barcelona with Etihad which is really important to me.
In the past IBTM in Barcelona, Abu Dhabi signed a strategic partnership with SITE, so that the emirate will play an active role in the SITE community participating at all global events and availing of SITE’s extensive educational programming including Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS) certification. It will also host SITE Executive Summit.
So this is another big step ahead for the events in Abu Dhabi.
In recent years, the city has witnessed a considerable growth in MICE activities, with world-class meetings and events facilities that inspire event planners from around the globe to host their dream event in this sultry capital. Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, is the second most populated city and one of the best global MICE destinations. And this for good reason, Abu Dhabi has a booming infrastructure and economy responsible for the majority of the $400 billion UAE economy. Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) is the entity largely responsible for the MICE industry within the city.
During IBTM in November 2019 I had the chance to interview Mubarak Al Shamisi, Director of Abu Dhabi Convention and Exhibition Bureau (ADCB)
How is Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau supporting the event industry?
ADCB has played a key role in attracting globally renowned events, business delegates and MICE visitors to Abu Dhabi through its immense support to event planners, event industry organizers and meeting specialists who seek world-class destinations for international exhibitions, conferences, and more.
ADCB provides free and impartial advice to organizations interested in hosting MICE events in the capital of the UAE to ensure they receive the optimum value on their business activities and events.
Advantage Abu Dhabi is an incentive initiative aimed at increasing the overall value proposition of the destination and provides an array of support throughout the event planning cycle. It provides a unique opportunity for event organisers to gain destination driven value by providing bespoke destination support.
Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau has launched a bespoke Advantage Abu Dhabi programme which supports international event organisers, functioning as a catalyst and seeding mechanism for viable business events aligned to the core pillars of Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.
Which are the plans for Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau for 2020?
The coming years are expected to be significant for Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector – with hundreds of events planned, we are expecting an influx of MICE industry professionals from across the globe. ADCB has prioritised a number of industry clusters which it will focus on during the coming years. This includes oil and gas, petrochemicals, metals, aviation, aerospace and defence, pharmaceuticals, tourism and culture, healthcare, transportation, education, media, financial services, and telecommunications services.
Some of the upcoming and confirmed events, exhibitions and conferences include Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2020, International Defence Exhibition and Conference 2020, World Congress of Nephrology 2020, World Sailing 2020 Annual Conference, Abu Dhabi Fintech 2020, IAEE Expo Expo 2020, World Urban Forum 2020 and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development 2020.
- We are a vibrant and dynamic hub for global business
- 1/3 of the world’s population is within a 4-hour flight and 2/3 within an 8-hour flight
- Our beautiful year round weather
- Rich cultural heritage amidst modern facilities
- Unparalleled attractions to keep you busy – whether you’re in Abu Dhabi for a couple of days or weeks
- We host more than 800 events throughout the year to keep delegates entertained.
- World-class infrastructure with hotels for all budgets
- A multi-disciplinary ’Team Abu Dhabi’ approach, which includes strong governmental support at the highest level
- Etihad Airways – our national carrier – serves more than 100 destinations across the world
Consequently, Abu Dhabi was recognized as the ‘Middle East’s Leading Business Destination’ at the World Travel Awards in 2019, and the ‘Leading Overseas Luxury MICE Destination’, during the China Travel and Meeting Industry Awards in 2017.
How does Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau help Abu Dhabi to implement Government plans?
ADCB support Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030 plan, which seeks to achieve 4 percent non-oil GDP contributions by 2030, by raising awareness about Abu Dhabi’s MICE portfolio and incredible capability to host all types of corporate and non-corporate events and functions. We work hand in hand with government stakeholders and global partners to provide the utmost support to the events industry. Earlier this year, the government announced the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) license for VAT tax waver, in an aim to further stimulate the business tourism sector in Abu Dhabi. It applies to all international companies and organizations based overseas, which participate in or plan to hold shows, exhibitions and conferences that do not exceed seven days. This is just one of many examples that depict our dedication in boosting the events industry scene in Abu Dhabi.
This year, Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau has launched a bespoke Advantage Abu Dhabi programme which supports international event organisers, functioning as a catalyst and seeding mechanism for viable business events aligned to the core pillars of Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.
The Bureau’s activities are also aligned with the Ghadan 21 government accelerator programme. Ghadan 21 (Tomorrow 21) is a three-year Abu Dhabi development accelerator programme designed to establish the emirate as one of the top tourist destinations in the world. The programme is based on four main elements: motivating business and investments, developing society, developing knowledge and innovation systems and improving quality of life.
Is digitalization a challenge for the MICE industry?
Digitalization is primal in this day and age, and the MICE industry is not an exception. In Abu Dhabi, we are continuously working closely with key partners and stakeholders to enhance our digital presence and simplify processes for organizations and business delegates who wish to participate in events happening in the capital, by digitalizing a range of things, such as the event licensing process.
In response to technology and digitalization becoming a priority for travelers across the globe, we have also implemented a series of updates to our Abu Dhabi Calendar app in order to enable visitors to book and navigate the city’s top events easily using their smartphones.
This area is rapidly developing, and we look forward to be a part of this significant shift.
Which are the trends of the industry in Abu Dhabi?
One of the biggest trends in the events and MICE industry for 2020 is a shift toward data-driven events and decision-making. As a result of this realization, we are working with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi to build a data warehouse that allows industry stakeholders such as meeting planners, hoteliers, attractions to leverage destination-related data to enhance their visitor experience, and also optimize marketing spend.
We also support event planners and participants to create an experiential presence, another trend that seems to be kicking off. By introducing event planners to the different participants, stakeholders and partners, we aim to encourage co-creation of content and experiences.
Which role plays sustainability in the MICE industry in Abu Dhabi?
Abu Dhabi is moving towards becoming a global leader for sustainability in the MICE and events industry. Some examples worth noting include the incredible work that our local partners have been doing. Earlier this year, Etihad Airways, our national carrier which currently serves more than 100 destinations across the world, operated the world’s first ever single-use plastic free flight on an ultra-long-haul sector during a flight from Abu Dhabi to Brisbane. In an aim to be more sustainable, Etihad Airways will reduce its single-use plastic usage by 80 per cent by the end of 2022.
Masdar City is another great example - one of the world’s most sustainable urban communities, this low-carbon development is made up of a rapidly growing clean-tech cluster. It makes for a perfect venue for groups looking for sustainability.
We’ve also noticed an increasingly popular and impressive trend from delegates visiting Abu Dhabi during their business travel. Many seek to contribute to the prosperity of the host destination by offering simple acts and gestures such as planting trees to offset their carbon footprint.