“Exhibitions are on the up in Abu Dhabi, and it is easy to see why…”, wrote Tom Hall Editor, Exhibition World.
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. The company was created back in 2005 by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi.
Their initial assignment was creating a venue to generate more MICE activity in the area as well replace the old Abu Dhabi International Exhibition Center. The larger objective for the ADNEC is to further Abu Dhabi’s reputation as an international business, leisure and lifestyle destination. And they have done just that!
The ADNEC facility is only 20 minutes from the airport by car and covers over 130,000 sq. m.! The venue is surrounded by hotels, like the Hyatt Capital Gate and the Aloft, to make accommodation bookings a breeze. The ADNEC also hosts an all-hands on staff, to help exhibitors and planners with every facet of their event from setting up stands to catering – they have it covered!
These facts are obviously making an impression: 1.5 million people attended 480 events in 2016 alone. Between January and April 2017, hotel guest arrivals rose 7% compared to 2016!
Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, vice-chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, believes this is just the start, “With our expanding programme of year-round events, entertainment and attractions, complemented by the future Saadiyat Island Cultural District museums – of which Louvre Abu Dhabi is opening later this year – we expect to see further trends of growth for Abu Dhabi.”
During IMEX this year, HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, director general of TCA Abu Dhabi, stated, “2016 was a record-breaking year for Abu Dhabi in terms of visitor numbers, with an estimated 2.2 million visits made for business travel purposes, and we have ambitious targets to grow this to 3 million business visitors by 2021.” Following this projected growth to 3 million business visitors, the MICE industry should account for 4% of the GDP by the same year.
While it may seem like a daring goal, Abu Dhabi is definitely capable. The necessary infrastructure, services, and professionals are already in place! Attention and interest are also already present – Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z all placed Abu Dhabi as one of their top two cities to visit for business and leisure!