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February 19, 2014
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MiddleEast: ICCA 50-year report reveals sector boom


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The past and potential exponential growth of the association meetings market has been revealed in a report commissioned to mark ICCA’s 50-year anniversary. 

The report, A Modern History of International Association Meetings: 1963- 2012, released at the end of 2013 reveals US$56.4 billion was the aggregated estimated total expenditure on all meetings in the ICCA Association Database that have taken place over the last five years.
 ICCA’s membership has increased from just seven members in 1963 to 917 in 2013 and five-year aggregated data of the last 50 years shows that since 1963, the number of meetings in the ICCA Association Database has grown by 10 percent each year. This means the number of regularly-occurring, international association meetings taking place doubled every 10 years. 
The pace at which meetings are occuring is also gathering momentum. The database shows 173,432 meetings took place between 1963 and 2012 with 1,795 or one percent of those staged between 1963 and 1967 and 54,844 or 31.6 percent staged between 2008 and 2012. 
“Now that we have 50 years of data to consider, the figures show what we have long believed: that our world is undergoing a truly revolutionary period in the creation and dissemination of new knowledge and innovation, and that association meetings provide an excellent insight into this dynamic, worldwide process,” said ICCA CEO Martin Sirk. 
He said the parallel between the exponential growth of international association meetings and progress in the fields of science, healthcare and technology isn’t a coincidence. 
“Association congresses are to a large extent, driven by advances in these fields and the unprecedented levels of discovery and innovation that are the hallmarks of recent decades are giving birth to entirely new associations and conferences, which are in turn stimulating further advances, new business opportunities, and fresh insights,” Sirk added. 
The report noted that association meetings were “important drivers of societal change and opportunities to address and understand some of the world’s most challenging problems”. Sirk said it was vital to recognise the “massive improvements to society that individual associations and their meetings can deliver”. 
The UAE is one market helping facilitate the discussion of global issues, particularly in the healthcare arena, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi staging large congresses related to diabetes, cardiology, ophthalmology and much more. 
The newly-appointed head of the Dubai Convention and Events Bureau (DCEB) Steen Jakobsen has said the agency will look to expand opportunities in the healthcare fi eld and push the boundaries for discussion, by staging events that crossover traditional sciences, such as cardiology and obesity, or obesity and diabetes. 
The ICCA report revealed that over the past 50 years, medical sciences have remained the most popular subject matter. In the past five years, 17.2 percent of all association meetings in the ICCA database related to medical science. 


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