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November 11, 2009

Meetings up but incentives down for 2010 in Middle East

Meeting and incentives providers in the Middle East region expect the recovery to bring about an increase in the number of meetings in the coming year, but say the incentives market will still suffer as a result of the financial crisis.


Ayman Aridi, MICE director, Alpha Tours Dubai, said he expected to see the percentage of incentives to decrease in 2010 in favour of more meetings: “In terms of the UAE in general, we will have a lot of meetings within the coming year; however, the percentage of incentives will be less compared to 2008-2009 as the incentive sector was the most affected due to the recession.”


Anwar Abu Monassar, general manager, Net Group agreed that following a challenging 2009, incentives providers were feeling the pinch due to having to offer more competitive rates. 


“2009 has been slow for everybody,” said Monassar. “Not just in terms of volumes but in terms of revenues due to the drop in rates. This is due to more affordable rates and deals being made available in the market, which does help in the attractiveness of the destination.”


He added that signs after the summer had provided “some confidence” but said: “Of course it is early yet and the world cannot expect a full recovery. We need to re-align our strategies and plans to face the daily changes of the market. Long term plans need to be re-adapted and confidence, flexibility and experience play a great role for stable companies.”


Ali Abu Monassar, chairman of Net Group, said budget cuts and tougher legislation in key source market such as the US and Europe were dramatically affecting the incentive market in the UAE.


“Unfortunately the international crisis has affected the budgets and European legislation has limited big incentives. We have seen a dramatic change in terms of budgets; there have been reductions of lets say 30, 40 or even 50 percent.”


Ali Abu Monassar predicted that the days of big ‘blow out’ incentives have come to an end with the focus now being more on business trips with a leisure element. “Pure incentives are losing value because first of all, US and European legislators are cutting budgets, and they are choosing destinations closer to home - for this region we have seen a big reduction. They used to have big budgets to make unforgettable and amazing trips but today the budgets are smaller. It’s more about trying to combine a normal leisure trip with a meeting to talk about strategy or company goals. I’m expecting that incentives will literally end up taking a back seat to the meetings – they will just become one part of meetings.”

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