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GCC economies attract international conferences / convention players

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A number of conferences and conventions are moving away from Europe and the US, towards the GCC, presenting Gulf countries with an economic opportunity, according to industry experts.

“We have seen events that were due to take place in Europe and the US relocate to Gulf countries due to concerns around accessibility and safety,” said Mahir Abdulkarim Julfar, Geographic representative for the Middle East for ICCA – The International Congress and Convention Association and vice president-commercial in the Dubai World Trade Centre. “There is a growing demand to host events in the Gulf. This is evident with broad expansion of event facilities. We expect venue capacity to double in the next five years across the GCC.”

According to Julfar, conferences and conventions provide enormous potential for diversification of economies in the Gulf. “This sector alone contributes 3.1% directly to Dubai’s GDP,” he added.

Julfar spoke at the ICCA Meetings Industry Developments Workshop, organised by Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA). The event witnessed participation from 63 professionals from across the region.

Qatar is seeking a 20% increase in visitors over the next five years, and expects a large portion of the increase to come from visitors attending business events. As part of its membership in ICCA, QTA’s efforts have resulted in significant growth in number of ICCA events hosted, with 14 hosted in 2016, and several associations have already selected Qatar as destination for their next event. In addition, QTA has sealed collaborations with 27 Qatari organisations who will be bidding, alongside QTA, for international events.