Abu Dhabi business tourism 'growing rapidly amid government policies'

UAE capital's 10-year strategy focuses on positioning it as an international 'Mice' hub, executive says

Abu Dhabi has hosted a number of events this year, including the Electric Vehicle Innovation Summit in May at Adnec. Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National
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Abu Dhabi’s meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) industry is “growing very fast” on the back of government policies, as well as the availability of good infrastructure for hosting business events, according to a top executive at the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism.

Eleven new events are on the agenda of the Abu Dhabi business calendar this year, including exhibitions, conferences, meetings and incentives, Mubarak Al Shamsi, director of the Abu Dhabi Convention and Exhibition Bureau (ADCEB) at DCT Abu Dhabi, told The National in an interview on Monday.

The Mice industry has “been growing very fast in 2022, pushing the boundaries of previous years and we’ve been very successful in anchoring several new events, including destination weddings,” Mr Al Shamsi said.

“Abu Dhabi has been very appealing to a lot of source markets from a destination wedding perspective, mainly India and also other places,” he said.

Among the big events hosted by Abu Dhabi include the World Utilities Congress in May, as well as Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition, which began this week. The emirate also hosted the Electric Vehicle Innovation Summit as well as the Middle East Design and Build Week this year.

“All these events that are taking place in Abu Dhabi [and] the new addition of events reflect the healthy ecosystem of the Mice industry that exists today in Abu Dhabi. We have a 10-year strategy that focuses on growing and positioning Abu Dhabi as a Mice international hub,” he said.

Abu Dhabi has seen an increase in visitor numbers this year amid the easing of coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions.

Occupancy rates at Abu Dhabi hotels improved month-on-month in August to 65.2 per cent, according to data from hotel analytics provider STR.

Meanwhile, passenger traffic at Abu Dhabi International Airport also nearly quadrupled during the second quarter of this year amid a resurgence in demand and the easing of travel restrictions in key markets around the world, the latest figures show.

ADCEB has also been partnering with various entities to boost its Mice agenda.

Earlier this year, it teamed up with developer Miral to attract larger corporate groups to the UAE capital. As part of the partnership, a business event fund was launched, specifically targeting business events and corporate groups with more than 500 participants.

ADCEB also partnered with Etihad Airways to further bolster support for Mice groups travelling to Abu Dhabi by offering them discounted air tickets, group booking discounts, complimentary flights and special flight rates for inspection trips to the city.

“New initiatives have been created including the Miral joint [business event] fund, as well as with other partners” to support the holding of business events in Abu Dhabi, Mr Al Shamsi said.

“We are going to announce new initiatives for certain partners to focus on certain elements of business events.

“We are also revamping the Abu Dhabi advantage programme to have a much more broader [impact] on how we can support business events in Abu Dhabi, and the reason we are revamping the programme is because of the needs and requirements of the market.”

The Advantage Abu Dhabi 2.0 initiative offers event organisers support throughout the event planning cycle, including financial assistance and destination-driven value-adds that generate business opportunities for local suppliers.

“We are focusing on growing the footfall of the Mice industry in Abu Dhabi. [It] has an economic … and strategic impact,” Mr Al Shamsi said.

Updated: September 27, 2022, 4:30 AM