venue profiles: interview: Helal Saeed Almarri CEO, Dubai World...

Helal Saeed Almarri CEO, Dubai World Trade Centre

What successes has Dubai World Trade Centre achieved this year in terms of numbers and bids?

The performance results for the first half of 2010 showed a 13 percent increase in visitor volumes for exhibitions, conventions and conferences held at our venues, a strong indicator of renewed global confidence in the Middle East events sector. With nearly 22,000 companies from 85 countries exhibiting in the 59 exhibitions and conferences held in just the first half of this year, we successfully delivered the regional networking platform for the international business community, reinforcing the role of the event industry as a key contributor to Dubai’s economy.

Complementing the blockbuster mega-shows like Arab Health and Gulfood, we recently announced Dubai’s win of eight new global congresses that will be hosted at DWTC during 2011 and 2012 including the International Public Transport Congress, the International Bar Association Congress, the World Diabetes Congress and the World Cardiology Congress.

 

What are the latest developments at the DWTC?

Since its unveiling in 1979, the DWTC complex has undergone numerous expansions, raising its profile in the meetings and events industry.

To address growing demand, we recently constructed a world-class hall extension - Sheikh Saeed Halls - consisting of four inter-connected halls, including the Middle East’s largest multi-purpose hall - The Trade Centre ‘Arena’. Boasting 14-metre-high ceilings and over 9,100 square metres of covered exhibition space, the Arena hosts concerts and events for over 10,000 guests in an air-conditioned, all-weather environment.

Adjacent to the extension is the new Trade Centre Plaza, which hosts a mix of caf-s and restaurants to provide an enhanced offering for our visitors. This Plaza is just a stone’s throw away from the new Dubai World Trade Centre metro station, allowing business and leisure travellers easy access to the venue.

 

How does the Middle East/Dubai events market compare to other international markets?

The exhibition industry in Dubai has seen exceptional growth in recent years and is now acknowledged as the international exhibition hub for the Middle East/Africa region. Recent industry reports from UFI and GIBTM revealed that the Middle East and GCC countries fared better in 2009 than other global regions, and continue to declare stable profit, despite global economic indicators. 

Dubai has an inherent geographical advantage at the nexus of three continents and, with a catchment of two billion people within a four-hour flight radius, there is significant scope and potential for ongoing growth of the industry which DWTC is facilitating through the recent expansion of our venue and an evolving events calendar.

DWTC achieved a 12 percent growth in visitor volumes at the end of 2009, and has started 2010 on a solid note recording a 13 percent increase in visitors over last year - including new additions to the first half of 2010 which included both exhibitions and congresses covering the aviation, ICT, trade and healthcare sectors.

 

What are you doing to promote Dubai as a superior meetings and events destination?

We work very closely with government stakeholders and partner agencies to actively promote Dubai via destination marketing campaigns, specifically those that target the international business community. To this end we are involved in providing inputs and support at the Dubai level to ensure that all city initiatives carry a common message and there is consistency in the way that Dubai is positioned as the ‘hub’ for the region at a global level.

 

What challenges does DWTC face?

The MICE sector is a very dynamic and constantly evolving industry. We need to have the pulse on the market needs and ensure that we innovate our offerings and show portfolio to meet the demands of the customers - from organisers and exhibitors to delegates and global visitors. 

As the region’s premier event organiser and operator of the largest exhibition venue in the Middle East, our prime focus is on delivering a seamless business networking platform for trade within the region, continually working to improve the return on investment for our exhibitors and driving growth in high quality visitor footfall to our venues. Evidence of this commitment is reflected in the growth DWTC has continued to enjoy even during a time of eco-- nomic downturn.