Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC)
All-out effort will be made to burnish Dubai city's credentials as the place to host meetings, conferences and exhibitions. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Dubai is one of the safest locations to host international exhibitions and conferences in the coming months, while trade fairs will play a critical role in a post-COVID-19 "restart". That's according to new research.

A survey of more than 4,000 professionals from 130 countries explored the impact of COVID-19 on the global exhibitions industry, delving into areas such as travel, budgets, and the importance of trade fairs in a post-pandemic world.

It showed that 77 per cent of respondents viewed Dubai as the safest destination to attend an exhibition going forward, followed by Germany (41 per cent), Saudi Arabia (19 per cent), France (17 per cent), and Italy (15 per cent).

Eye on the future

Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) agreed that as the coronavirus recedes, exhibitions will be more important for business (31 per cent), or just as important (38 per cent), compared to the past. A further 64 per cent plan to attend exhibitions in the next eight months, while 36 per cent have been given the green light to do so before the end of this year.

The J‘Exhibitions post COVID-19’ survey was commissioned by Messe Frankfurt Middle East (MFME). The results arrive as the UAE continues to inject confidence back into its economy. Last month, international travellers were welcomed to the country for the first time in nearly four months, while on July 16, the Dubai World Trade Centre hosted the AI Everything conference, the first ‘real-life’ event at the venue since March.

“As with many business sectors, the trade fair industry felt the impact of the pandemic, particularly in Dubai, which has a thriving exhibition sector at the Dubai World Trade Centre,” said Simon Mellor, Messe Frankfurt Middle East’s CEO.

“The purpose of the study was to investigate how this global virus affected businesses of MFME stakeholders, and how we can address their concerns collaboratively with our peers. We will continue to run the survey over the course of the year and look to engage more parties as it evolves over time.”

Need to travel

While 77 per cent of the survey respondents indicated they may travel abroad for business by the end of 2020, much of this figure (50 per cent) depends on the lifting of international travel restrictions. Half who said they could travel abroad before the end of the year, pending government rules and recommendations, said they would do so by airplane.

Encouragingly, nearly 62 per cent would attend exhibitions at their ‘home country’ and abroad, however 25 per cent would only attend an event ‘at home’, perceiving reduced travel as better for their health and safety.