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Presidential message: ICCA spreading the word about importance of international meetings in Middle East

Dear ICCA colleagues,

Along with the other Board members on the ICCA Management & Finance Committee (MFC), I have just returned from a very busy and successful visit to Dubai, hosted by our MFC colleague Steen Jakobsen with support from many other local ICCA members. Formerly with Wonderful Copenhagen Convention Bureau, Steen is now leading the work of the Dubai Convention Bureau, and he put together an incredible programme that involved over 100 local industry professionals and business leaders, including 70 who attended a half day seminar on how to improve competitiveness in the international meetings market.

It’s clear that Dubai, UAE, and the wider region are taking international meetings more and more seriously, and the recent success of Dubai in winning the 2020 World Expo is a catalyst that will take the region to another level.  Abu Dhabi and Qatar are incorporating international meetings in their massive higher education development strategies; Oman will soon be opening a world class congress centre, and Dubai is expecting to nearly double the number of hotel rooms between now and the Expo!  Airlines such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways have worldwide ambitions and the fleets and service quality to match those ambitions.

The attending ICCA Board members learnt an incredible amount, not just about the future of meetings in the region but also how local culture is at the heart of their thinking about hospitality and service.  At the same time, I was enormously proud of how well respected ICCA is, and how our input is contributing in a big way towards Middle East destinations’ strategic thinking regarding our industry.  This influence on strategy is just as important as the front-line support by our Regional Office, advising members on how to make the best use of ICCA’s wide range of tools and services.

So I recommend that all members around the world follow this approach: don’t just think of ICCA as offering a menu of practical business solutions for your daily research, sales and marketing activity; use ICCA to shape the strategy and expand the understanding of your top politicians and business leaders as well!

I wish you every success, and look forward to seeing you at future industry events.

Arnaldo Nardone



* Attached image, from left to right: Steen Jakobsen, ICCA 3rd VP; Hamad Bin Mejren, Executive Director, Dept. of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) Dubai; Nina Freysen-Pretorius, ICCA 2nd VP; Arnaldo Nardone, ICCA President; H.E. Helal Al Marri, Director General, DTCM Dubai; Martin Sirk, ICCA CEO; Gerard Arents, ICCA Financial Controller; Juan Jose Garcia, ICCA 1st VP.