Future of MICE Industry in Focus at Inaugural Abu Dhabi Business Events Week

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Event organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi explored innovation in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events sector

Abu Dhabi, UAE: The first-ever Abu Dhabi Business Events Week wrapped up on Wednesday with three days of keynote speeches, in-depth panel discussions and workshops aimed at accelerating the recovery, growth and future of the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) industry in Abu Dhabi and the wider MENA region.

The event, which took place from 25 – 27 October at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), was organised by Abu Dhabi Convention and Exhibition Bureau (ADCEB), part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), to provide an industry-led platform for peer-to-peer knowledge sharing on best practices in the MENA region and with the ambition to create a permanent mark on the annual calendar.

The first day commenced with a MICE outlook for the GCC. Moderated by Edward Matti, the panel featured the region’s leading experts from private and government entities such as Abu Dhabi Convention & Exhibition Bureau, DCT Abu Dhabi, Dubai World Trade Centre, Oman Convention Bureau and ASM Global. The panel discussion made evident the issues that the MICE industry currently faces, including compliance with changing health and safety guidelines imposed on in-person events; managing hybrid events and profitable business models for hybrid formats.

Following this, the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) hosted a general session that deep-dived into the client journey – from the first point of contact to successful event delivery with key learnings shared including understanding the client’s event objectives and partnering with them throughout event execution and delivery.

Closing off the first day, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) hosted an opening ceremony and reception dinner, with live connection from the Global Congress in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. His Excellency Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, Executive Director of Tourism and Marketing, DCT Abu Dhabi said, “We have been brought together by our shared values of innovation and ambition, as well as our dedication to the MICE industry. The industry is essential on a global scale, estimated to be valued at over $1.3 billion by 2028. So much has changed over the last 18 months, including business travel trends and event formats, yet the principles and objectives of MICE events have stayed the same. Success is now driven by creative and innovative approaches.”

Day two saw the much-anticipated ‘Future of Travel and Tourism’ panel discussionwhere key experts from the industry shared their business insights. Panellists included HE Al Shaiba; Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General at the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO); Anita Mendiratta, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General; Steen Jakobsen, Assistant Vice President of Dubai Business Events; Julien Munoz, Senior Vice President of Sales at Radisson Hotel Group; Gerald Lawless, Ambassador at World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC); and Terry Daly, Executive Director Guest Experience, Brand and Marketing at Etihad Airways.

During the discussions, HE Al Shaiba expressed his confidence in Abu Dhabi’s pioneering Go Safe Certification Programme in instilling a level of trust for both businesses and consumers. “We are making great efforts to work towards providing stringent health and safety measures across all retail, tourism and commercial establishments,” he said. “Following protocols and practices set by the World Health Organisation and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA), we want to ensure that all domestic and international travellers feel safe and secure when visiting Abu Dhabi. Of course, this can only be successful with partnerships and unity across government departments and industry leaders with the joint effort to protect public health, whilst empowering economic contribution in the hospitality and entertainment sectors.”

On the final day, as participants continued to network and explore partnerships within the community,  the half-day agenda put a particular focus on business forecasts and future-proofing.

Scott Livermore, Chief Economist of Oxford Economics, Middle East hosted a live regional panel titled ‘Outlook for the Global recovery in Business Travel based on Oxford Economics’ before opening up the floor to a Question and Answer session. Further predictions were provided by a panel of MICE associates; Cathy Breden of IAEE, Jessie States of MPI and Padraic Gilligan of SITE with ‘Critical Keys and Predictions for Global MICE Business Recovery’.

Speaking of the future of MICE in the region and the Abu Dhabi Business Events Week, HE Al Shaiba, said “We strategically curated Abu Dhabi Business Events Week to support key pillars of Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030. This type of event and the opportunity it brings to not only our city, but the larger network of MICE industry professionals, is vital. Over the last few days, we have strengthened dialogues, exchanged insights and forged collaborations between each other, and I look forward to seeing the wider impact that the event will have had on the industry.”

About the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi:

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) drives the sustainable growth of Abu Dhabi’s culture and tourism sectors, fuels economic progress and helps achieve Abu Dhabi’s wider global ambitions. By working in partnership with the organisations that define the Emirate’s position as a leading international destination, DCT Abu Dhabi strives to unite the ecosystem around a shared vision of the Emirate’s potential, coordinate effort and investment, deliver innovative solutions, and use the best tools, policies and systems to support the culture and tourism industries.

DCT Abu Dhabi’s vision is defined by the Emirate’s people, heritage and landscape. We work to enhance Abu Dhabi’s status as a place of authenticity, innovation, and unparalleled experiences, represented by its living traditions of hospitality, pioneering initiatives and creative thought.