Visitors throng the Dubai World Trade Centre on the second day of Gulfood 2013 exhibition. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Minister of Finance and Chairman of the Board of Dubai World Trade Centre, announced a record performance for the Dubai World Trade Centre in 2012, with more than 1.85 million visitors and circa 37,000 companies using the events as a trading, promotional and sales platform for the MENASA region.

The announcement followed Hamdan’s chairmanship of Dubai World Trade Centre’s Annual Board Meeting on Thursday, March 21. The meeting included detailed reviews of the organisation’s 2012 performance results, the historic performance from 2008 to 2012 and plans for DWTC’s future growth.

Addressing the Board, Hamdan said: “It is highly encouraging to see that the strategy to grow the scale and diversity of events on the annual calendar has had the desired impact on substantially increasing the number of visitors and exhibitors.

“Even more positive is the strong performance throughout the last five years. During a period when the global exhibitions industry experienced difficulty prior to its more recent stabilisation, Dubai World Trade Centre has delivered year on year growth.”

A 2011 study showed that the Dubai World Trade Centre generates more than Dh6.5 billion for Dubai’s economy — a contribution of 2.1 per cent of the Emirate’s total GDP. The 2012 results represent a 12.5 per cent increase in visitor numbers and a 5.5 per cent rise in exhibitor numbers on 2011 figures.

The swell in exhibitor numbers saw 36,996 companies from over 130 countries participate in events at DWTC during the year, while the record visitor numbers were drawn from 186 countries. 38 per cent of the total attendance to DWTC’s major exhibitions and conventions in 2012 was comprised of foreign visitors, who, per person, contributed 11-times the economic value to Dubai compared to locally based visitors.

Helal Saeed Al Merri, director general of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and CEO of Dubai World Trade Centre, said: “Estimates show that over the next five years the city’s trade traffic will grow by an average of 5-7 per cent per annum, with a substantial amount of business coming by virtue of being on the arterial routes linking growth economies across Latin America, Africa and the East. DWTC will continue to play a major role in stimulating trade, as we remain focused on delivering not just a world-class trade event and destination experience, but also a world-leading one.”

Mainstays on the calendar include mega-shows such as Arab Health, Gulfood, Gitex Shopper, Gitex Technology, BIG 5, ATM and Intersec.