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July 28, 2015

Report: The Business Events Dilemma in the Middle East




More than seventy percent of North America association executives would consider the Middle East as a prospective conference location, according to a new study released today by Development Counsellors International (DCI). 

With the region’s meeting, incentive, conference and exhibitions (MICE) industry valued at more than $1.3 billion, “Will Demand Meet Supply? Inside the Business Events Dilemma in the Middle East” examines the unique position of the Middle East’s global business hubs towards attracting future business events from the North American market.

“At the intersection of three continents, the Middle East is in a highly strategic geographic location for associations looking to increase membership and attract more delegates to their conferences and events,” said Daniella Middleton, director of the Business Events division at DCI. 

Key findings from the report include:

Potential Growth in Regional Membership: Since participation from North American based associations is low in the Middle East when compared to other global regions, 62 percent of respondents believe the region offers an opportunity to create and grow Middle East regional membership for their organizations. 

Continuing Education and Regional Events: Association executives also indicated that they see value in the region for continuing education opportunities and seminars, since the business community remains underserved in this area. The same can be said for regional chapter meetings and events, which are critical for building a deeper membership pool for global conventions.

Past Experience in the Middle East: Of the association executives surveyed, 33 percent had hosted a conference in the Middle East.  Of those who had hosted their meetings in the region, more than 50 percent indicated that they had been held in the United Arab Emirates, either in Dubai (38.2 percent) or Abu Dhabi (16.4 percent).

Primary Deterrents to Hosting: Nearly three-quarters of respondents indicated that they would consider the Middle East as a location for future conferences.  Of the 26.1 percent who would not consider the region in the future, security and safety concerns were noted as the primary deterrent (34.9 percent), along with lack of regional membership (25 percent) and the travel distance (16.3 percent). Interestingly, given the profile of many Middle East locations as luxurious, the price point was not the top concern.

“The UAE continues to lead the region with massive infrastructural developments in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but convention center openings and expansions in Israel, Oman, and Qatar are representative of the growing sophistication of the region’s offerings,” said Middleton. “Attracting North American associations will be critical as the Middle East marketplace becomes increasingly more competitive.”


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