المصدر : khaleejtimes

Credit goes to wise leadership for giving this vital sector necessary attention



Year after year, the UAE proves that it remains one of the best countries in the world by celebrating Global Exhibitions Day, which takes place every June 6.

 

Although this global event, launched by the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI), is only three years old, the reason that our country celebrates this event is because of what this occasion symbolises, which is pride for the vision of our wise leadership, who grasped the importance of this sector and its future potential. About 41 years ago, the construction of iconic landmarks, which have become cultural, commercial and scientific centres, have attracted some of the biggest and most well-regarded international companies and organisations and millions of visitors from all around the world. Now, the UAE prepares to host Expo 2020, which is the largest event worldwide that is only hosted once every five years. This massive event lasts for six months and is visited by millions of people each time.

Today, we would like to thank and congratulate our wise leadership for giving this vital sector the necessary attention. This has enabled the UAE to hold a prominent position as a leader in the global exhibitions and conferences industry, which is represented in the number of global events that are hosted by the country, and in the growth of the size of this sector. The sector's global revenues have exceeded $2 trillion annually, which was achieved by organising 9,000 international exhibitions and conferences that were held in different countries all around the world and have provided millions of employment opportunities.

The UAE is ranked first in terms of organising and hosting exhibitions in the Middle East and North Africa region, ahead of South Africa and Turkey, according to the latest international reports issued by international institutions. The UAE has succeeded in organising and hosting 256 exhibitions during 2016, followed by South Africa with 209 and Turkey with 197. Revenue from the exhibitions tourism sector has contributed to more than Dh2.39 billion annually to the national economy and is expected to grow to Dh5.1 billion by 2020.

These achievements would not have been possible had the country not adopted its economic diversification policy that prepares the country's economy for a post-oil future. The policy, along with the continuous development of infrastructure and integration of government services, are part of a long-term strategic plan to enter the global market. It is in addition to coordinating with the country's chambers of commerce and the related institutions in each emirate in order to prepare an agenda that contains the exhibitions and conferences of all emirates. The geographical location and the network of roads, ports and airports in the country has had the great impact in solidifying its place as a regional and international centre in the exhibition sector during the past two decades, which has helped the country acquire more than 50 per cent of the exhibition industry in the Middle East.

The UAE deserves to celebrate the Global Exhibitions Day due to the country's keenness in developing the exhibitions and conferences industry in accordance to systemic plans that aim to advance the sector in a sustainable way. A few weeks ago, the UAE Cabinet approved a decision related VAT on exhibitions and conferences, giving the right to facilities working in this domain to refund the VAT value. This reflects the keenness of the wise leadership to support the exhibitions and conferences sector, and to encourage the industry to actively participate in advancing the country's leading status in this sector regionally and globally.

In a new initiative that aims to elevate the workforce that is employed by the exhibitions and conferences sector, the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Expo Centre Sharjah signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) to cooperate on organising a minimum of nine Certified in Exhibition Management Learning Programme courses that will take place in seven Arab countries including the UAE. This initiative is in line with the UFI's efforts to connect young people to the exhibitions industry and to raise awareness on the employment opportunities that are available in this sector.

Through its membership to the board of directors of UFI and its chairmanship over the Arabian Gulf Chapter of the IAEE, the UAE is keen to provide an information and data resource that focuses on the industry in the Arab world. It will contribute to the development of this sector in the region as well as enhance the positive role of the industry in various areas of life. In addition, it will multiply its social and economic benefits to all countries in the region and help develop future economies.

The UAE has invited regional leaders of the exhibitions industry to establish a Middle East association similar to the other organisations across the world. The association would help coordinate efforts in the industry, develop the sector's workforce and facilitate the exchange of knowledge and expertise. The world is witnessing rapid changes, and those employed in the sector must develop new and different strategies over the coming years that take into consideration the economic changes that are taking place in the region and around the world.

The writer is CEO of Expo Centre Sharjah, member of the board of directors of the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry and chairman of the Arabian Gulf Chapter of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.


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