Why Dubai is such a thriving destination for international events

- Leadership - Sep 30, 2016

Matt Denton, President at dmg events, Middle East, Asia & Africa, tells us why Dubai is such a thriving destination for international events.

Why is Dubai such a great location for event organisers?
Location and infrastructure. Dubai, as we know, acts as a regional hub and has fantastic exhibition facilities – other countries are not so blessed! Dubai has always been aware of the importance of business tourism and is seemingly built for events. The infrastructure just works: easy visa process, world leading airline access, hotels and entertainment at various price points and, of course, the event facilities themselves all position Dubai at the first choice host in the region. Visitors and exhibitors come here for business, but they also know they are going to be looked after and have a great time.

How does it differ from other international events hubs?
Location again, it serves an important geographic market with a fantastic events infrastructure. Dubai as a trading hub has a lot of regional companies headquartered here so you can reach far without leaving town. Also Dubai is really dominant in the region, whereas other hubs have competition – Singapore, Thailand and Jakarta. Duba,i and to some extent Abu Dhabi, have the only regional venues and infrastructure that can cater for a large international trade show.

How have you seen the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) sector change in the region?
MICE has always been an important sector in Dubai and as the region develops the sector is becoming more professional and becoming more consolidated, with large international organisers targeting the region. Also as the markets grow and develop, we are seeing more niche and vertically targeted shows to satisfy growing demand and scale. An example being our Big 5 Construction show that has operated in Dubai for some 30 years and fills the Dubai World Trade Centre. However, in recent years we have spun-off concrete and machinery shows for a deeper dive into those industry segments and a specific windows, doors and façade show joins the portfolio this year.

What effect do you think Expo 2020 is having on the events industry in the UAE?
I think we’ll begin to see the true effect in the next few years as the fantastic plans the Expo team has visualised begin to rollout and the contracts start to flow both here and abroad. There is a huge amount of excitement surrounding Expo 2020 and it can only benefit the industry and its reputation. The legacy of Expo will undoubtedly be even greater awareness of Dubai as a destination, even more fantastic infrastructure and MICE facilities and of course more talent in the employment market. Because of the peripatetic nature of the Expo many will move on after it has finished, but many will have fallen in love with Dubai and stay to build their careers here.

How is dmg contributing to growth in the sector?
In recent years dmg has seen unprecedented growth both in Dubai and the wider region serviced by our Dubai regional office. In the last six years we have grown our local team from around 60 staff to over 230 and our event portfolio from six events to over 25 in the region and a further 20 international events managed from here. We have both launched and purchased events and attracted international partners to work with us here. Many of these events have a truly global footprint and showcase Dubai to the business world attract companies to do business here and ultimately for many to set up operations here.

What is the biggest event dmg currently runs in the Middle East?
It is almost a tie, we operate the huge and globally important ADIPEC, the oil and gas event in Abu Dhabi coming up in November. However, The Big 5 also in November wears that crown. Not only filling the DWTC it has also generated a host of spin-off events and we have also geo-adapted it into six other countries. I strongly believe with this footprint it is the world’s leading construction event brand.

How has technology changed the events industry?
As overused the term ‘engagement’ is, it perfectly sums up the need for events to connect with audiences on an emotional level to create successful and memorable events. This is where technology comes in - enabling organisers to meet the needs of the attendee by creating a more personalised and interactive experience. From what we have seen, when implemented successfully, technology can increase attendance, enhance learning and importantly facilitate networking.

What are dmg’s goals in the region?
We are always looking to develop in the region. Despite being a UK company we really do feel this is home. Recent developments have seen a lot of activity in Africa and Asia, but our core will always be here. Our geo-adapting and verticalisation of our events will continue, but we are also looking to broaden the scope of some of our smaller events. We have great plans to segment Index, our leading interior design event in May. In terms of new shows, one great success that springs to mind is the Windows, Doors and Facades show I mentioned previously. A new event for this year, extracted from Big 5, it has smashed its targets and attracted a far broader range of exhibitors who would not traditionally come to Big 5. It is a true testament to our verticalisation strategy.

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Read the October 2016 issue of Business Review Middle East magazine

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