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The Middle East sees growth in global association meetings

Looking at aggregated figures for each five-year period (to remove annual fluctuations), the number of regularly occurring, internationally rotating association meetings in the Middle East doubled each decade in the last 50 years and more than tripled in the last 10 years.

“Our statistics are proving what we have long suspected: The world is experiencing an unprecedentedly revolutionary period in terms of knowledge creation, and association meetings are growing exponentially in tandem as primary vectors for disseminating that knowledge,” said Martin Sirk, CEO, ICCA – a global meetings association.

ECN 032014_INT_ICCA Middle East graphICCA’s 50-year statistics report “A Modern History of International Association Meetings: 1963-2012” shows that the total number of regularly occurring, internationally rotating association meetings is increasing by 100 percent every 10 years, and has been consistently doing so for the last half century, with no signs of a slowdown. The number of meetings in the Middle East has even grown quicker than in other regions as it more than tripled in the last 10 years.

“The Middle East joined the Information Revolution more recently than most regions, so it is not surprising to see some of the world’s fastest growth rates now that excellent meetings infrastructure has been developed, governments have created knowledge strategies to underpin their economic development agendas, and local demand for education and knowledge-transfer is at an all-time high,” said Sirk. “We are confident that the region will enjoy even greater international meetings activity in the future, based on these underlying fundamentals.”

Acknowledging the growing importance of the Middle East meetings market, ICCA is extending its activities in the Middle East region, and in 2012, it opened its first ICCA Middle East regional, which offers data, communication channels and business development opportunities to international meeting suppliers.

ICCA members can use a new online interactive statistics tool to carry out tailored analyses and destination comparison studies based on 50 years of association meeting data.

ICCA will organize a seminar during GIBTM on Mar. 25 on hosting international association meetings in the Middle East. This insightful session will discuss the challenges and opportunities of organizing international association meetings in the Middle East and what makes this region unique. An expert panel of ICCA members will give the top 10 “Do’s and Don’ts” when organizing international meetings in the Middle East as well as what each of the various destinations in the region are doing in attracting association business.

The session is moderated by: Steen Jakobsen, vice president, Dubai Convention Bureau, and board member, ICCA.


  • Medhat Nassar, ICCA Middle East Chapter Chairperson, Managing Director at Meeting Minds
  • Michael Christian Schultz-Tholen; Hon. Secretary General; Federation of International Polo
  • Mahir Julfar, ICCA BOD member, Director Commercial, Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre – Dubai WTC
  • Khalifa Alqubaisi, ICCA middle east chapter deputy chairperson, Head of Sales Congresses, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company


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