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January 31, 2012

MAKING A DIFFERENCE:World Diabetes Congress Dubai


Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC) plays host to 15,000 delegates from over 160 countries.

The Dubai event marked the first time the World Diabetes Congress had been organised in the Middle East and North Africa — a region that is enormously affected by diabetes. The key aim of the event was to create a platform that allowed key players to take up the challenge of giving a voice to the millions of people around the world living with diabetes. The Programme Committee aspired to create a wide-ranging programme covering all aspects of the diabetes field. A key aim of the congress was for each delegate to benefit from novel and interactive sessions with renowned speakers. 



The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) comprises more than 220 diabetes member associations. Its mission is to advance diabetes care, prevention and a cure worldwide and its strategic goals are to drive change at all levels, from local to global, to prevent diabetes and increase access to essential medicines; develop and encourage best practice in diabetes policy, management and education; advance diabetes treatment, prevention and cure through scientific research; and advance and protect the rights of people with diabetes, and combat discrimination. 



The main reason for hosting the 2011 Congress in Dubai is the significance of diabetes to the UAE, the Gulf region and the IDF Middle East and North African Region as a whole. The UAE has the second-highest prevalence of diabetes globally, with one in five people now living with diabetes. This is expected to increase further if action is not taken. Holding the World Diabetes Congress in Dubai provided the perfect opportunity for IDF to add a strong political dimension and increase the representation of government and civil society from the region at the congress. In addition, Dubai met IDF’s accessibility, meeting space, public transport and accommodation requirements, with a range of hotel facilities available to suit all budgets, a safe environment and low-cost transportation. 



The role of the Local Organising Committee headed by the Emirates Diabetes Society and Dubai Health Authority was to provide assistance in specific areas: 

• Arrange complimentary signage/advertising at Dubai Airport (Terminals 1, 2 and 3) 

• Arrange smooth immigration in dedicated immigration lanes at the airport 

• Arrange discounted public transport tickets for a period of five days through RTA 

• Provide volunteers throughout the congress 

• Assist with the patronage of the congress 



Accommodation management: CSI negotiated, booked and managed more than 10,000 rooms. All rooms were negotiated under Dubai Bid Alliance (DBA) terms and conditions. DBA was created and spearheaded by (CSI) in 2007 along with Dubai Convention Bureau, Emirates airline, Dubai World Trade Centre and major Dubai hotel chains. Today DBA accounts for more than 20,000 rooms and is a great incentive for PCOs, DMCs, the DWTC and DCB to attract association meetings to Dubai. 


Supporting programmes: CSI tailor-made more than 14 tours and excursions showcasing Dubai and UAE cultural treasures. In addition, CSI offered support to IDF and its sponsors for the organisation of its opening and closing events, dinners, tours and excursions, pre–and post–tour programmes prior, during and post–congress. 


Airport desk: CSI had dedicated desks at Dubai International Airport on the arrival days to welcome and assist delegates and speakers when appropriate. 


Meeting rooms and hospitality desks in hotels: CSI managed, on behalf of IDF, enquiries for hospitality suites and meeting rooms in official hotels. 


Social events: CSI managed IDF’s own social events. These included: 

• Opening Ceremony attended by 4,000 participants. The opening ceremony was attended by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and Industry, the President of the Dubai Health Authority and patron of the congress. 

• Networking evening (December 5): attended by 1,000 participants. Delegates were offered the chance to enjoy an evening with their peers and friends in a typical Bedouin camp in the desert. Featuring Arabian carpets, low tables and comfortable cushions, the Al Sahara and Al Sarab camps were a 50-minute drive from Dubai. Delegates experienced the tradition of Arab hospitality with live music, an Arabic dinner buffet, camel rides, henna tattoos and shisha pipes.

• Evening with the president (December 6): attended by 2,000 participants. CSI showcased UAE folklore to an audience of around 2,000 participants in honour of the IDF president as well as IDF member associations, staff and volunteers from around the world. This provided an occasion for delegates to meet the people behind the IDF at a lively and inspiring evening at the Global Village. 


Exhibition stand building management: CSI acted as the official IDF stand builder and assisted in the organisation of the technical aspects of the exhibition. 


Exhibition and sponsorship sales: CSI was mandated by IDF to sell exhibition and sponsorship packages to the entire MENA region. 


Local staffing (hostesses, students, security): CSI acted as the official IDF host agency and provided, managed and trained the hosts/hostesses required for the World Diabetes congress. 


Transfer, meet & greet management: CSI o rganised t ransfers in luxurious air-conditioned coaches and cars from the airport to the selected hotels based on agreed itinerary with IDF. CSI also offered Meet & Greet services to IDF delegates to assist them with airport formalities. 



The goal was for the World Diabetes Congress to leave a legacy that will encourage governments in the region to act in the face of the diabetes pandemic. The congress aimed to provide a welltimed  boost to local initiatives as well as a significant opportunity to exchange information across the region and share key learnings with a global audience. 



CSI manager Alexandre Lolliot talks through the successes, challenges and the event’s legacy for both the IDF and Dubai. 


What lengths did CSI go to secure the contract to organise the event?
The bid process for this congress lasted nearly 18 months and we were up against some of the world’s best PCOs. Thanks to our unique product and service offering, our local infrastructure and most importantly the team’s ability to manage mega events, IDF entrusted CSI with this challenging mission. Multiple site inspections, presentations, and contract negotiations took place over the 18 months. The scope of services became wider as IDF understood how much they could rely on CSI resources and expertise. 


What extra resources did CSI draft in to make this event a success?
With a project management team comprising 16 permanent staff, CSI had to recruit an additional five temporary staff to make this event happen. In addition, an operational team of more than 100 people worked at the airport and in the city to carry out meet and greet and transportation requirements for delegates. To streamline the workload, CSI customised a web system to accommodate hotel, tours, visa, and transport bookings online. 


What key challenges did CSI face?
The number of last-minute hotel bookings, changes and visa requests we received was unusually high. Not only were we dealing with a large number of attendees but we also faced a wave of bookings and interest in Dubai as a destination. There was so much curiosity and enthusiasm in getting to know Dubai by delegates, and as a PCO, we were under an enormous amount of pressure to provide competitive and service-oriented solutions in response to last-minute requests. 


What were the event’s key successes? 

• Top recorded attendance: more than 15,000 delegates compared to 12,000 in Montreal 2009 (up 25 percent). 

• Record exhibition and sponsorship sales. 

• An excellent scientific programme. 

• A state-of-the art symbiosis between IDF and CSI in making this mega-congress a smooth logistics operation. 

• Recognition of the event from the highest level within the Dubai Government with the opening of the congress and the exhibition by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Minister of Finance and industry and President of the Dubai Health Authority and His Excellency Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, Director General of Dubai Health Authority. 

• A surprise visit by UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. 

• Dubai gained recognition as a leading association meeting destination, thanks to the combined efforts of CSI, the Dubai World Trade Centre and all the industry stakeholders involved in making the event a success. Following the event’s success, how will this help CSI – and Dubai – win more congress business of this nature? 

• The World Diabetes Congress is by far the largest congress ever held in Dubai and organised by CSI. 

• The event’s success showed the world that Dubai and CSI are ready to take on any size of congress, irrespective of the industry sector. 

• We proved that Dubai welcomes all delegates irrespective of their nationality, race or religion.

• The scientific and medical interests of the congress had gone beyond politics, putting the wellness of the human being at the centre of the Dubai Government agenda. 

• With this reference on paper, CSI will keep on submitting more bids along with the Dubai World Trade Centre and Dubai Convention Bureau to leading global associations that have not yet come to Dubai to convince them that Dubai is an obvious choice. 

• Dubai is known for all its superlatives. You can now add that Dubai boasts one of the world’s finest state-of-the-art congress infrastructures (DWTC) and service providers (CSI). 


What will be the lasting legacy of the congress? 

For Dubai and IDF, the legacy is the Dubai Diabetes Declaration, which will facilitate the implementation and monitoring of evidence- based policy and planning emerging from the United Nations Non-communicable Diseases Summit (UN NCD). 



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