His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Minister of Finance and Chairman of the Board of Dubai World Trade Centre Authority, announced the 2015 annual performance results of Dubai World Trade Centre, highlighting an impressive 12% year-on-year increase in traffic to deliver 2.74 million delegates and attendees, coupled with a strong 17% increase in exhibiting companies, reinforcing the entity’s regional dominance within the global Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) sector and its dynamic influence on Dubai’s wider business tourism agenda.
Chairing the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority’s Annual Board Meeting, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan reviewed the company’s 2015 performance results, and its strategic plans for future growth and portfolio expansion. Members of the Board in attendance at the session included His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Deputy Chairman; Mr. Butti 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 HE Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA) and Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).
In his address to the board, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan, said, “Our 2015 results are not just a show of outstanding performance but more importantly, reflect the maturity of the DWTC portfolio in being able to deliver double digit growth with such consistency across its various business lines.Backed by a prudent long term expansion strategy with strategic diversification of the event calendar, the DWTC business has steadily grown in number of events, venue occupancy rates, visitation quality and volumes, and in building Dubai’s international attractiveness for exhibiting corporates and trade delegates.”
Over the past year, the newly established DWTC Authority has served as a strong regulatory complement to the DWTC business networking proposition, with a focus on broader ecosystem enablement, developing unique commercial real estate value and creating a holistic destination value proposition. His Highness further remarked, “Today, thanks to the impeccable reputation built over the years as a world-leader in the global exhibitions industry, DWTC is widely recognised as the most conducive international platform for businesses from the East and West to access and service emerging markets in Africa and the wider region. I congratulate the Board, the management and the employees for committing to the long-term agenda of the organisation as a core economic contributor for Dubai’s GDP and for their collective drive to continuous innovation that has enabled DWTC to stay ahead of the curve in the evolving global economic landscape.”
DWTC’s 2015 results are a continuum in the trajectory of double-digit year on year growth supported by an extensive and varied events calendar across strategic industry sectors that are well aligned with Dubai’s wider priorities for economic diversification.Last year saw 396 trade events being hosted at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC) venue including 104 mega-events, delivering a total of 2.74 million MICE delegates and attendees with 53,547 exhibitors from 185 countries to Dubai. With nearly 41% international participation across its portfolio of events, DWTC contributed an incremental 1,066,865 global visitors to Dubai’s business tourism figures. The primary international source markets for visitors included: Saudi Arabia, India, United Kingdom, Pakistan, China, Qatar, Oman, Iran, Jordan and Egypt. These accelerating numbers are a further testament of its key positioning, both on a global scale and within a diversified and sustainable local economy that supports future growth, employment and prosperity.
“Building on our core strategic fundamentals of delivering an enabling commerce platform for the world to do business with the wider region, we have focused our efforts on setting in motion the next phase of DWTC’s evolution. During 2015 we launched several medium-long term initiatives centered on customer experience enhancement, with technology and innovation at the heart of powering future growth opportunities for our business. The performance results clearly reflect the resilience of our diversified venue calendar catering for various event types across a broad set of industry sectors that has allowed DWTC to deliver strong international traffic growth from key source markets. Over the next 3 years, our priorities are aligned to the economic diversification focus of the UAE and Dubai, so that DWTC sustainably drives long-term returns for the MICE industry and consequently builds its contribution to our GDP,” said His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri.
Diversification, Scale and Expansion – building blocks for sustained growth
The DWTC venue reported high occupancy levels as it expanded even further on the breadth and depth of its varied events calendar to incorporate new exhibitions, international conferences, consumer and live events. 27 new shows including 8 exhibitions and 19 associations and conferences, featured as new entrants within the 2015 calendar, with many of them showcasing the latest trending topics like the Digital Health & Medical Technology Conference, and Internet of Things.
“The sectors we cover within our calendar have always been very closely aligned with the industries that the government of Dubai seeks to invest in and develop over the medium to long term. Over the years, we have steadily worked on compressing the lead times to attract the right profile shows, curate the content and build the scale to attract quality participation, so that today, even the newest events in the calendar have the relevance and gravitas to drive thought leadership and global debate within the sector. Optimal scale is a critical success factor as we review our portfolio performance, as it is a self-fulfilling cycle for attracting the largest international exhibitors and the biggest regional buyers, ultimately driving trade volumes at the shows and consequently higher return on event investment for all our customers,” continued Almarri.
Eighty of the top tier exhibitions reaching a threshold scale of 25,000 attendees in average traffic per event during 2015, and all of DWTC’s anchor mega-events uniformly experienced year-on-year growth in volumes across visitors and exhibitors, reflecting very strong confidence in growth prospects for their respective global sectors, from healthcare, security and food, to travel, technology, and construction. Notable mentions include Arab Health that saw a 5% uplift over 2014 with more than 140,000 delegates; Gulfood that attracted a record 84,642 visitors from 170 countries and 4,800 exhibitors from 156 countries; the Arabian Travel Market that witnessed a 22% spike in exhibitors and an unprecedented 34% increase in visitor numbers; Gitex Technology Week that brought together over 146,000 industry professionals and more than 4,200 suppliers from 144 countries; and the Big 5 that delivered 3,104 exhibiting companies from 67 countries.
“Building on several decades of brand recognition as a mega-business event venue, we have been equally invested in ensuring that we are just as effective in driving the choice for Dubai as the destination for leisure events with a stronger repertoire of consumer shows, entertainment, sporting and lifestyle events. Through 2015, we have grown our venue capacity, expanded our facilities to provide more customised solutions for specialised event types, and built in even more versatility and flexibility into the state-of-the-art hosting infrastructure we offer our clients”, explained Almarri when discussing the new Zabeel Hall extension that opened its doors in the last quarter of 2015. To cater to the expanding and more diversified events calendar, DWTC added 15,500 square metres of further covered exhibition space to the venue in the form of 3 new halls, taking the available multipurpose indoor event and exhibition capacity to over 121,984 square metres. This expansion is expected to support 2016 growth expectations.
Looking Ahead at 2016 and Beyond
The 2015 report reinforces DWTC’s reputation as a global venue operator that hosts and delivers world-class mega-events across industries and segments. In its expanded role as an Authority, it remains a strategic component in the master plan of Dubai as a business travel and destination proposition, which has contributed to the UAE’s rise in competitiveness as a global business destination.
“DWTC’s growth will focus on expanding global commercial opportunities supporting the UAE’s strategic imperatives for further economic diversification across core sectors such as ICT, healthcare, food, bio-technology, travel and tourism, retail, and logistics. At the core of all these growth drivers are three fundamental needs - the need for unprecedented agility, the need for sustained creativity to stay ahead of the curve, and the need for a real-time 24x7 pulse on the market with the operational ability to respond dynamically,” said Almarri.
“We have been privileged to have had the lasting confidence and support from the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister, Ruler of Dubai, and DWTC will strive to remain at the forefront of innovation, continuing to stimulating growth across all key pillars for Dubai’s 2021 Plan, setting a benchmark for governmental and public-private partnerships,” he concluded.