Dubai hosts industry leaders

bic event

UFI Middle East and Africa Conference at the Dubai World Trade Centre attracted 150 attendees from 10 countries and highlighted the restart of business events.

MT Bureau

UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry Middle East and Africa Conference 2021 successfully concluded with over 150 participants from across the globe and 30 expert speakers. Held after almost 15 months of digital meetings, UFI MEA Conference was the first onsite in-person event which brought together leading players from the region and beyond to network, exchange ideas andforge new partnerships, with participants travelling from as far as the United States.

His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai Tourism and Dubai World Trade Centre Authority, and Kai Hattendorf, Managing Director and CEO of UFI, delivered welcome addresses.

Leaders from the regional and international exhibition sector gathered in Dubai – thanks to the city’s wellestablished measures to safeguard the well-being of all visitors and lead the way globally in restarting business events in the wake of the pandemic.

With a mix of speakers from inside and outside the industry, participants enjoyed a world-class programme of content, including economic outlook, case studies, lessons learnt from the pandemic and plans for the future. There were also multiple networking opportunities to catch up with friends and colleagues, meet new people and enjoy the company of colleagues.

His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai Tourism and Dubai World Trade Centre Authority welcomed everyone, saying, “We are really happy to have you in Dubai, It is great to see the industry that we all love

come together after quite an extensive break.”

Commenting on how the UAE managed amid the pandemic, he said, “Between April and July last year the team spent an excessive amount of time to put in place processes and procedures. By May last year we decided to open for domestic tourism and by July we re-opened for events. Although we opened the country for international travellers in July, the events were domestic.”

He added, “The pace of events slowly caught on and has continued since last year, making Dubai one of the first destinations to open for events with great caution.”

Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said, “Driven by the city’s strong, decisive leadership and prudent handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dubai has led the way internationally in safely restarting exhibitions, trade shows and other business events, which play a vital role in economic and knowledge development locally.

Just as we’ve worked with local and international stakeholders to ensure the city has been well-placed to resume events, we are committed to working with the wider industry to share knowledge and learning. Hosting the UFI Middle East and Africa Conference has enabled us to engage with key leaders from the global business events community and provide a platform for its continued rebound.”

Kai Hattendorf, UFI CEO and Managing Director, added, “We are very happy to offer our members and the industry the opportunity to re-connect in person, on site, face-to-face, this week.

You could literally sense the excitement in the conference hall, as colleagues from across the region met each other again, took stock of where we are as markets re-open and discovered future opportunities in the Middle East and beyond. UFI is ready to support the industry across the region in this recovery.”

Trixie LohMirmand, Executive Vice President at the Dubai World Trade Centre, said, “The Dubai World Trade Centre is delighted to finally welcome so many UFI delegates and to connect again face-to-face, celebrate the industry’s achievements and jointly accelerate the global momentum of events re-opening.

On this wonderful occasion, I’m also proud to share the launch of the Sum+ Of Us Women in Events Network, which has received a pledge of support from UFI, whose own Special Interest Group for Female Leadership strives to raise the profile and visibility of female leaders and talents in the exhibition industry. The network will be the region’s first women leadership development initiative, and has been established to support talented, dedicated women to evolve, grow and create greater impact in the exhibitions and wider events industry.

As founding sponsor of Sum+ Of Us, the Dubai World Trade Centre is delighted to receive the full endorsement of HE Helal Almarri and the support of UFI, which is at the forefront of driving positive change in the diversity agenda.”

Naji El Haddad, UFI Regional Director for the Middle East and Africa, said, “This conference is a clear manifestation of the industry’s resilience and determination to thrive, despite the current circumstances. The success of the event wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our host, Dubai World Trade Centre, and our destination partner, Dubai Tourism. I would like to offer a special thanks to all of our sponsors, speakers and delegates for their contribution and participation.”

The event is the latest in a series of important shows and conferences taking place in Dubai over recent months, following on from Gitex Technology Week, Gulfood and Arabian Travel Market. In the coming months, Dubai will continue to host major events, including Arab Health and The Hotel Show, as momentum builds towards Expo 2020 Dubai. This year’s conference was supported by UFI’s Diamond Sponsors – the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), Qatar National Tourism Council (Qatar), Shenzhen World and Freeman. A wide range of sponsors also backed the event.

HE Helal Saeed Almarri

“The pace of events slowly caught on and has continued since last year”

Issam Kazim

“Dubai has led the way in restarting business events”

Kai Hattendorf

“Colleagues took stock of where we are as markets re-open”

Trixie LohMirmand

“We are delighted to celebrate the industry’s achievements”

Naji El Haddad

“The event is a manifestation of the industry’s resilience”

QUICK BYTE Leading players got the opportunity to network & forge new partnerships