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Due to increased activities on education, networking and advocacy, ICCA membership in the Middle East region has increased more than 70 percent in the last 18 months. 

ICCA developed strategic “Meetings Industry Development Forums” to enhance association meetings industry knowledge in the region, which involved local suppliers and associations, who were educated on how they could become association meeting ambassadors and take part in a bid. The Forum also engaged international thought leaders to share knowledge and best practices and further build the knowledge economy in the destination. The ICCA Meetings Industry Development Forums were hosted by the national tourism board or convention bureau and they were organized in most of the Middle East countries. 

In addition, ICCA has been organizing workshops addressing the pharma compliance implemented globally, a bidding and budgeting workshop exclusively for the UAE association segment, a workshop developing the association knowledge of Convention Bureaux, and a workshop for meetings industry stakeholders in Dubai. The forums and workshops have been very successful and participated by more than 90 industry stakeholders. The learning outcomes have been very productive and all Middle East ICCA member countries have requested ICCA to organize similar forums in 2018.

Apart from education and networking, ICCA has played an active advocacy role in the region. ICCA has been working very closely with the Convention Bureaux of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and the Bahrain Tourism Authority in developing the association market segment, the strategic approach on international bidding, the engagement of local associations in the global meetings industry and creating a road map on how to develop local and regional associations.

ICCA’s business philosophy is built on the foundation of sharing knowledge about international association meetings, something ICCA members have been doing for more than 50 years. ICCA extends this thinking into every type of business and knowledge exchange it is involved in, so ICCA members are used to talking honestly about both their successes and their failures, and ICCA aims to extend this type of thinking to non-members who attend ICCA events.  ICCA opened its permanent regional office in the Middle East in 2016 and has deployed numerous activities to advance the association meetings market in the region.

ICCA CEO Martin Sirk said: “ICCA took the strategic decision to open a full-time regional office in Dubai at the start of 2016.  The association sector is taking off in the Middle East, driven by growth in an educated, professional middle class, a desire for professional education, standards and accreditations, and an understanding by international associations that this is a market of great long-term potential. We started building activities of ICCA in the region form 2016. One of the approaches towards development was building 2018 ICCA Congress legacy in 2016, with our first Middle East Forum, which was designed to help the local industry understand the strategic importance of the international association meetings sector. And of course, having set up a formal Regional Office and appointed industry veteran Senthil Gopinath as our regional director Middle East, we have the resources to ensure that ICCA’s legacy will continue for many years after the Congress, through higher membership, stronger support and training, and higher Middle East attendance at our global events outside the region.”

ICCA Regional Director Senthil Gopinath added: “We are delighted to experience the immense growth in the Middle East region. The meetings industry is on a rapid growth. Some of the key reasons for same is development of modern meetings infra structure, Government and meeting industry willingness to enhance the meetings knowledge. Constant awareness created amongst the association segment shows high level of interest of participation in the industry by the association representatives. The association meetings sector is entering a new and exciting phase in this region, for both suppliers and organizers.”

Middle East fastest growing region for hosting international association meetings
Globally, the number of association meetings has doubled in a decade: from just under 6,000 in 2006 to more than 12,000 in 2016. The market share of the Middle East region has grown even quicker: from 100 to 255 in a decade. This growth of more than 250 percent is the largest for any region in the world. The estimated total number of participants in the Middle East has grown from just of 100,000 in 2007 to an average of almost 200,000 in the last five years. Most meetings were about medical sciences and technology. The amount of technological meetings is higher than in other parts of the world.

The 57th ICCA Congress will be held in Dubai, UAE, on 11-14 November 2018. ICCA’s 2017 Congress just took place in Prague, with a record attendance of 1278 attendees from 80 countries. For more info, visit www.congress2018.iccaworld.org

The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) is the global community and knowledge hub for the international association meetings industry and represents the world’s leading suppliers in handling, transporting and accommodating international meetings and events, comprising more than 1,000 member companies and organizations in almost 100 countries worldwide. Since its establishment over 50 years ago, ICCA specialises in the international association meetings sector, offering unrivaled data, communication channels, and business development opportunities. ICCA members represent the top destinations worldwide, and the most experienced specialist suppliers. International meeting planners can rely on the ICCA network to find solutions for all their event objectives: venue selection; technical advice; assistance with delegate transportation; full convention planning or ad hoc services. For more info, visit www.iccaworld.org.

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