The focal point of the meeting sector in Abu Dhabi is the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). With 73,000 square metres of exhibition space spread over 12 halls, the majority of events are held in the state-of-the-art venue, welcoming around 1.8 million people annually.
ADNEC is part of the US$2.3 billion Capital Centre development - a mixed-use project comprising 23 hotel, residential, commercial and mixed-use towers and a marina, central to which is Capital Gate, a 35-storey mixed-use 'leaning tower' which will feature the five-star hotel Hyatt at Capital Centre. The region’s first Aloft hotel by Starwood, connected via a bridge to the exhibition centre, is already open for business, with the Hyatt scheduled to be operational by the beginning of 2011.
The last 12 months have been pivotal for the company, with the ADNEC site, which grew by an additional 28,000 square metres in 2008, converting its Hall 12 into a flexible Auditorium venue with 5,700 hydraulic seats at the end of 2009.
As flagship venue for the city, ADNEC is continuing to attract high profile events drawn to its world-class facilities and support services. “In 2009, we had our busiest year since we opened, hosting over 100 live events, registering a growth of approximately 20 percent over 2008 in terms of visitor numbers. Contrast this with just 14 events that were staged in 2005 and our growing impact is clear,” says Simon Horgan, CEO of ADNEC Group.
The exhibition centre’s distinctive U-shape design also features the world’s largest exhibition concourse at 18,000 square metres.
However, it’s not just the capital that is upgrading its meeting facilities with ADNEC also responsible for development of the new Al Ain Convention Centre, part of a US$1 billion business and residential micro-city based on the successful Capital Centre business development model. The development will include hotels, residential and commercial low-rise towers built around the new convention centre and cultural centre.
Away from the purpose-built conference centres and small high-profile conferences are also taking place on newly-opened Yas Island with the ultra-luxurious Yas Hotel as the staging point. At the opposite end of the city, the Emirates Palace Conference Centre houses an auditorium seating 1,200, a main ballroom for up to 2,800 participants and 48 meeting rooms, making it another popular choice with event planners.
ADNEC is also working with the government on bids for large-scale association conventions, and is already seeing impressive results. Says Horgan: “We work closely with Abu Dhabi government authorities as well as with key stakeholders from the private sector to present Abu Dhabi’s compelling value proposition as a leading destination for events of every nature. Abu Dhabi is strategically positioned at the heart of one of the world’s most rapidly advancing regions and is heavily committed to the meeting segment.
” With the annual GIBTM event a major player in both the ADNEC calendar and in encouraging industry interaction with the venue, the importance of being host venue is also front of mind, as Horgan explains: “Abu Dhabi is strategically positioned at the heart of one of the world’s most rapidly advancing regions and is heavily committed to the meeting segment. GIBTM is one of the key events staged at ADNEC and gives us the opportunity to enhance awareness of our expanding facilities and emphasise Abu Dhabi’s evolution into a premier meeting location.”