H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Announces Outstanding 2016 Visitor Results

Press Release

H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Announces Outstanding 2016 Visitor Results

25 Apr 2017

H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Announces Outstanding 2016 Visitor Results

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Dubai World Trade Centre Authority, announced the 2016 annual performance of Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), as the business surpassed a significant milestone in visitation traffic hosting 3.03 million delegates and attendees to events at its venue. The results represent an impressive 11% year-on-year footfall increase attracting attendance from 185 countries with 51,711 exhibiting companies, of which nearly 70% were foreign exhibitors. DWTC's continued growth in international participation reaffirms the strength of its diversified calendar of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE), and is an endorsement of the company's global reputation and contribution to Dubai's positioning as a pivotal business hub.

Chairing the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority's Annual Board Meeting, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed reviewed the company's 2016 results, and its strategic plans for future growth and expansion. Members of the Board in attendance at the session included Mr. Buti Saeed Al Ghandi; Mr. Ziad Abdulla Galadari; Mr. Abdulla Mohammed Rafia; Mr. Khalifa Suhail Al Zaffin; Mr. Saoud Ibrahim Obaidalla; Mr. Abdulrahman Mohammed Rashid Al Sharid; and Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA) and Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and CEO of DWTC.

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed said in his board address: "Since inception, DWTC has consistently built international repute as a strategic driver of growth for the region's MICE sector and 2016 has continued this trajectory, delivering strong double digit performance across the business. Our strategic agenda to build a highly diversified events calendar for Dubai has been instrumental in allowing DWTC to retain undisputed regional leadership in the global MICE industry. Today, we continue to leverage our unique geographic positioning and the strength of the entire portfolio of DWTC businesses to collectively raise Dubai's profile as a critical node on the new global silk road, by building the profile of the DWTC events programme, increasing the variety and number of events, improving the venue occupancy and accelerating regional and international visitation. DWTC's 2016 results have unfailingly reiterated Dubai's attractiveness for exhibiting companies and trade delegates from every corner of the globe, and the importance of the MICE sector for the emirate's economy."

Through 2016, DWTC's Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC) venue hosted 298 MICE and business events, including over 100 mega-events, delivering a record 3.03 million attendees, delegates and visitors to these events reflecting double digit year-on-year increase over 2015 traffic.

With international participants growing 4% each across the number of visitors and the number of exhibiting companies, DWTC's venue welcomed over 1.05 million foreign business travellers to Dubai last year, representing a strong 45% of its overall mega-event participant volumes. 35,526 foreign exhibiting companies from 185 countries participated at events in DWTC accounting for nearly 70% of the total exhibitor base, further contributing to the rise in MICE contribution to business tourism volumes and consequently driving up the wider economic impact generated for Dubai. The primary source for visitors continued to be dominated by the proximity markets and Europe – Saudi Arabia, India, Oman, Iran, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar and Jordan.

His Highness concluded: "DWTC is recognised as a world-class entity in the global exhibitions industry with the ability to sustainably deliver an international platform for businesses from the East and West to connect, access and service emerging markets in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia regions. The foundations it has built, and the continued momentum of its delivery will allow DWTC to become an even more dynamic facilitator of international trade within a diversified local economy that supports sustainable growth, employment and prosperity. I congratulate the Board, the management and the employees for committing to the long-term agenda of DWTC as a key economic contributor to the emirate's GDP, and for their persistent efforts to adapt and innovate so that the organisation responds prudently in the face of new global economic realities."

Adding to the comments, His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri explained: "DWTC's priorities are strategically aligned with the Dubai Plan 2021 and the goals of economic diversification and sustainable development of the UAE and Dubai. Today, we are well-positioned to continue to aggressively pursue a strategic innovation agenda to deliver against the 10X growth vision set by our Ruler His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for the nation. Our short and medium-term goals and initiatives integrally link smart technology and digital innovation to the delivery of new standards in 'customer experience delivery' – ultimately geared towards attracting more international visitors and repeat travellers to Dubai for business. Our 2016 performance is a reflection of many foundational measures taken over the past few years to diversify our offerings and strengthen our events calendar so that our business as a whole responds to a wide array of industries, event formats, and client needs. We are confident in the resilience of the DWTC portfolio today, to catapult greater growth acceleration over the next 3 years, sustainably driving GDP contribution from the MICE sector as a key economic driver for Dubai."

Content-Driven Growth

DWTC recorded high occupancy levels as it continued to report growth in scale of existing shows and 

added 26 new entrants 
including 7 exhibitions, 6 associations and 13 conferences, of which 11 were categorised as mega-events, with more than 2,000 participants.

"The events calendar within DWTC is extraordinarily diverse in its breadth and depth, yet well-synchronised with the Dubai government's long-term economic policies to elevate Dubai's position as a global platform for knowledge-based, sustainable and innovation-focused businesses. We have strategically focused on identifying, attracting and developing the right profile of shows, curating relevant content that allows for long-term show growth; and steadily scaling up our events to bring in quality participation; consequently ensuring that inaugural editions and anchor mega-events are both equally attractive in their scope and opportunity for organisers, exhibitors, delegates and visitors", said Almarri.

DWTC's mega-events attracted 

2.3 million participants
, with 88 of the top-tier exhibitions recording an average traffic of nearly 25,500 attendees per event. Mega-shows organised or hosted by DWTC in the healthcare, security, food, travel, technology and construction sectors achieved year-on-year growth across visitors and exhibitors, reinforcing consumer and business confidence in the entity's ability to incentivise show content innovation, successfully stage operations, and attract a high quality of participation from around the world.

Particularly noteworthy in 2016, 

the world's largest annual gathering of food business professionals and suppliers, registered a 
10% year-on-year increase in visitors and a 4% increase in the number of exhibitors 
with a record number of 
93,005 attendees 
5,000 exhibitors 
181 countries; The Big 5, 
the region's largest building and construction show, witnessed an incredible 
22% growth 
and attracted 
79,500 visitors
GITEX Technology Week, 
a game-changing technology and innovation event, brought together over 
145,000 industry professionals 
4,473 exhibitors 
173 countries 
– an 
increase of 7% over 2015
the leading international platform for the security and safety industries, experienced a 
14% increase of trade-only visitors 
with over 
1,280 exhibitors 
presenting their latest products and innovations – 
an increase of 4% from 2015
; and 
Arab Health 
4,187 exhibitors (3% increase) 
115,207 medical and healthcare professionals, an 8% increase over 2015.

Newer shows such as Gulfood Manufacturing – only in its second edition – witnessed an impressive 12% increase in the number of visitors and a 4% rise in the number of exhibitors, while mega-consumer show mainstays on the calendar such as GITEX Shopper remained immensely popular attracting around 200,000 people. DWTC's comprehensive events calendar covers the cornerstone sectors and more traditional industries as well as progressive upcoming ones, both as independent verticals and as sub-segments within larger sectors, all of which are already redefining Dubai's business and economic focus. For example, Middle East Electricity had a strong content concentration on the most pertinent future-focused global aspects of energy security and sustainable power, which resulted in a remarkable 23% increase in the number of visitors to the show.

Future Focused Portfolio-Wide Agenda

"DWTC's success in 2016 against the backdrop of heightened uncertainty across industries and in the global markets is extremely encouraging for us as we capitalise on our high brand recall as a mega-event business and venue that has allowed it to further support Dubai's positioning as the destination of choice for international business exhibitions and conferences. As our venue capacity grows, our infrastructure constantly enhanced and our service portfolio continually refreshed, we are better equipped and more versatile in our ability to cater to evolving market needs, and the needs of today's global customer that operates in a highly digital and real-time environment. Across our business portfolio, we seek to deliver the future 'integrated MICE destination' at the very heart of Dubai, powered by the logistical and regulatory efficiencies of a dual license free zone ecosystem," continued Almarri.

Through its advantageous diverse portfolio, the DWTC Authority, the new business conducive free zone regulatory authority, which successfully completed its first year of operations, is strongly positioned to present a differentiated destination proposition to the domestic, regional and international business community, cementing Dubai's leading position as a prominent, safe and competitive platform from which to operate, expand and leverage. Offering the convenience of operating with both an onshore and offshore license for businesses, strongly complemented by a 24x7 proposition around conducive lifestyle and entertainment at the heart of Dubai's central business district, DWTC's One Central development offers premium mixed-use assets that are a key part of a masterplan at the core of DWTC's sustainably designed proposition. With Phase 2 of the development underway, One Central, which is already ahead of its delivery schedule has successfully completed leasing of its first commercial property to blue-chip tenants and is spread over 540,000 square metres. The development showcases a discerning mix of Grade A commercial assets, diverse hospitality offerings, residential sites and an iconic multi-purpose theatre, all of which together with the core MICE sector proposition are aimed at delivering strong ROI for DWTC clients and strengthening Dubai's attractiveness to international corporations and regional businesses alike.

"As we look ahead through 2017 and beyond, we have embarked on a holistic series of strategic initiatives aimed at driving future growth and innovation to establish DWTC as the global innovation leader for the MICE sector, integrating its core business operations and services, and setting new benchmarks to deliver exceptional visitor experiences," said Almarri.

As we ramp up towards contributing actively against the 10X initiative to put Dubai ahead of all other cities in terms of innovation through new work mechanisms, each aspect of our business and every employee of DWTC is inspired by the mandate to implement today, what other cities in the world will begin implementing in 10 years, by pursuing every viable growth opportunity and reinforcing our standing as market leaders for 2020 and beyond," concluded Almarri.