Press Release

Events Sector Witnesses a Massive 17 Percent Rise in Attendance

05 May 2012

Events Sector Witnesses a Massive 17 Percent Rise in Attendance

Announcing a historic attendance of over 1.65MM visitors to major trade-fairs, conventions and consumer shows at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) during 2011, the region’s leading venue operator and events’ organiser today, reported an impressive year-on-year spike in event related regional and global traffic. These record performance figures were backed by a solid 7% increase in exhibiting companies that represented over 120 countries, highlighting the growing value of Dubai as the region’s business hub and the recognition of its ability to generate critical industry stimulus through its Events’ platform. In 2011 alone, DWTC offered 35,071 local and international businesses access to 1,653,114 visitors from over 160 markets across the wider region, and enabled a high volume of trade transactions across sectors – delivering an optimally networked hub with the ability to revitalise the regional economy.

Commenting on the commendable 17% growth in trade visitors, Helal Saeed Almarri, CEO of Dubai World Trade Centre said: “This performance is especially significant as it is complemented by the increase in commercial deals brokered at our venue through 2011, clearly indicating that we have been able to deliver not just the ‘magnitude’ but also the top-tier decision makers to events in Dubai. Exhibiting firms were visibly encouraged by the high-value business conversions and breadth of regional market exposure enabled by our Events’ platform, and having witnessed tangible returns on their investment, we are optimistic that it will fuel even higher international participation in 2012. As financial prudence and austerity continue to be world-wide priorities, our focus in 2011 had been to build on the strength of Dubai’s stability and provide an immensely secure networking base connecting not just international buyers, investors and high-growth regional markets, but also industry experts, business leaders and associations, to promote an active dialogue and consequently generate sustained economic activity”.

The surge in reported attendance from the BRIC, European and CIS economies while maintaining traditionally high Middle East & North African representation, and the sheer numbers of global conferences and conventions won and hosted at DWTC during 2011, substantiates the growing appreciation for and confidence in Dubai’s uniqueness and ability to create value as an international gateway for the region.

QUALITY OF ATTENDANCE DRIVES INDUSTRY ACTIVITYIndustry leading events across strategic sectors for Dubai’s economic agenda that are also most relevant in today’s global and regional context - such as Healthcare, Food, ICT, Travel-Tourism, Security, Logistics and Education among others - played a dominant role in Dubai World Trade Centre’s 2011 calendar. Overall, DWTC’s top-line and sector performance were positively influenced by the increase in attendance figures across all exhibitions, led by another tremendously successful year for its mega events including Arab Health, Gulfood, GITEX Technology Week, the Dubai AirShow, Big-5 and the Dubai International Motor Show. Opening 2011 with the region’s most prominent event for the medical industry and the second largest in the world for healthcare, Arab Health reaffirmed its status with a reported 8% rise in attendance, registering 71,940 visitors and 2,814 exhibitors from over 61 countries.

Building on the trend, the world’s largest annual food, drink and hospitality exhibition Gulfood also maxed out the million square feet of venue space, delivering a further 12% growth in visitor numbers, exceeding industry expectations with billions of dollars in transacted business during the show. Despite being held during a period of regional volatility, the 4-day trade fair drew participation from over 150 countries represented by 62,024 trade visitors and 3,800 exhibitors, including a strong contingent of international pavilions, to the exhibition and its 19 concurrent conferences, creating one of the sector’s most globally-networked platforms within the food and beverage manufacturing and catering industries.

The second phase of the exhibition season saw GITEX Technology Week’s 2011 theme of ‘Redefine the Future,’ furthering the proposition of MENA’s must-attend ICT event byexpanding the content beyond networking events and niche topical conferences to driving investment for R&D and innovation within the technology sector. This 31st edition surpassed attendee records in international participation bringing together 138,836 trade visitors and 3,500 exhibiting companies from around the world to forge new alliances and promote innovation and idea exchange needed to keep pace with the demands for global connectivity.Retaining its leadership as the region’s most successful consumer electronics and IT products show, the B2C counterpart GITEX Shopper, attracted 169,018 prospect buyers and generated over AED 193 million in sales over its 8-day duration, for its exhibitors - an impressive 10% increase over 2010.

Following on closely were two of the region’s most anticipated biennial events- the Dubai International Motor Show and the Dubai AirShow. November saw the most successful edition of the Dubai International Motor Show, as the event crossed the 100,000-visitor mark with the world’s largest automotive manufacturers showcasing their latest concepts and upcoming models for 2012. This unique combined Business to Business to Consumer expo platform witnessed nearly 60 global and regional launches, and first-time participation from the fast growing spectrum of Asian manufacturers, underlining the relevance of the regional market for suppliers across the global industry value chain as exhibiting OEMs reported unprecedented trade volumes both during and in post-show bookings from the event.

Substantiating Dubai’s growing prominence in global tourism and aviation, the Dubai AirShow provided a resurgent boost to the industry with large-scale investments of USD 63.3 billion in aircrafts and infrastructure, more than quadrupling its previous show bookings.The 12th edition hosted in 2011 showcased an impressive increase of around 8% across all performance parameters – with 960 exhibitors and 56,548 visitors compared to the previous 2009 edition, making it the largest show on record. Rounding off the year on an equally high note, the region’s largest construction sector related exhibition Big 5-PMV registered a 6% annual increase in visitors with an even higher 8.5% growth in exhibiting companies, bringing together a total of 50,275 attendees with 2,333 businesses representing 64 countries.

Significant growth in mid-sized exhibitions due to consistent returns for participants and the introduction of leading profiles in some high-potential sectors during 2011 ably supported top-line growth for DWTC in addition to the mega-events portfolio. Intersec met its increasing exhibitor demands with a massive 25% addition to its exhibition space, delivering the largest edition of this premier safety and security exhibition for the Middle East & North African region. The 2011 show also announced record high participation welcoming 21,626 trade visitors to engage with over 800 exhibitors across the sector’s supply chain from 50 countries.To drive international interest and regional investment into critical industries DWTC attracted new shows such as EDUKEX (Education UK Exhibition) and the IHRC (International Human Resources Conference and Exhibition) for the Education Sector; UITP World Congress and Mobility & City Transport Exhibition and TOC Middle East Conference & Exhibition for the Transport and Logistics Sector.


Dubai World Trade Centre’s calendar for 2011 demonstrated a strong strategic focus on strengthening its event diversity beyond the exhibitions portfolio and building awareness of Dubai’s infrastructural capabilities in order to support and advance global consideration for the city as a truly exemplary event hosting destination.  The congress segment alone saw DWTC hosting over 22 high-profile international events, several of which were competitive city bids won against the world’s leading conference destinations to bring these prestigious events to the UAE. From the 59th UITP International Association of Public Transport World Congress (the leading transport Convention previously held in Vienna) and the International Bar Association Annual Conference (for the Legal & Judicial Professionals that moved from Vancouver), to Medical & Healthcare conventions traditionally dominated by European cities like the Human Genome Conference and the World Diabetes Congress (from Germany), the Dubai-based 2011 editions were their largest and most lauded ones to-date.

“Winning the bid was just the first step - Real success is this segment has been defined by Dubai’s ability to attract the scale of international delegate participation that we have, and synchronise efforts as a city to deliver a consistently exceptional experience to every attendee. The fact that we elicited such unanimous appreciation for raising the bar, from both the organising bodies and the delegates, highlightsDubai’s ability to not only compete on equal footing but also set new best-in-class standards as a global networking destination”, said DWTC’s CEO, Helal Saeed Almarri.

In a committed effort to expand its hosting capabilities to cover a variety of innovative consumer event categories apart from the host of concerts and entertainment events held at its venues, DWTC organised the country’s first and largest indoor sporting event during the summer of 2011 - Dubai Sports World. This launch edition ran over a period of 8-weeks offering a broad suite of field, racket and athletic events spread over 25,000 square metres of covered and fitted out space, and attracted over 120,000 visitors - an able testament to DWTC’s operational and infrastructural flexibility to cater for business, consumer and entertainment events alike.​

Preliminary estimates of a successful first quarter for events in 2012 present a buoyant outlook as DWTC’s agenda remains centred on growing the sector’s estimated 2.4% contribution to Dubai’s GDP. In the ramp up towards UAE’s bid to host World Expo 2020, a key priority for 2012 will be to promote Dubai’s candidacy as the city that offers the most integrated proposition and truly mirrors the essence of its theme‘Connecting Minds - Creating the Future’. DWTC’s efforts through this phase will be aimed at building on last year’s successful base to further the established credibility with the global audiences - in terms of Dubai’s ‘destination-appeal’ to attract the visitor volumes and its capacity to deliver a harmonious experience surpassing any other leading international hub.