Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is beginning to make its mark as a genuine global meetings centre. In 2012, Abu Dhabi was named among the top 100 busiest global meetings destinations by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), marking both the first time the city had entered the top 100 and a meteoric climb of 134 places in the global city rankings from 234th the previous year. With 22 association meetings that year, Abu Dhabi was able to move above the likes of Cologne and even Las Vegas and settle alongside Atlanta, Brasilia and Perth.
The clearly stated ambitions from Abu Dhabi’s Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) to develop a world-class environment for meetings, conferences and exhibitions were beginning to pay off, with Jasem Al Darmaki, TCA Abu Dhabi’s Deputy Director General, stating that the rise was an “endorsement of Abu Dhabi’s credentials as a recognised destination for the industry”.
The improved ICCA rankings were down to key events such as the World Ophthalmology Congress (WOC), which attracted more than 10,000 delegates and the 18th World Routes Development Congress, which was staged at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). In 2013, top events hosted in Abu Dhabi included the 2nd Emirates Urological Society Conference Congress.
The signs point to an equally prosperous 2014 and beyond, with the newly formed Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau (ADCB), launched in March 2013 to attract exactly this kind of business, now fully up and running. Its initial target of six bid wins by the end of 2013 has already been surpassed with the announcement of 10 future congresses, including the World Society of Paediatric and Congenital Congress of Heart Surgery, 4th World Heart Failure Congress and IATA Slots (all in 2014), EcoCity Summit (2015) and Gastro 2016 and the International Association of Statistics (IAOS) (2016).