The Big 5 exhibition last year 5 witnessed a 22 per cent growth and attracted 79,500 visitors. Image Credit: Courtesy: DWTC

Dubai: Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) hosted 3.03 million delegates and attendees to events at its venue during 2016, registering 11 per cent year-on-year footfall increase and attracting attendance from 185 countries with 51,711 exhibiting companies, of which nearly 70 per cent were foreign exhibitors.

Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Dubai World Trade Centre Authority, announced the 2016 annual performance of DWTC and said that continued growth in international participation reaffirms the strength of its diversified calendar of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE), and is an endorsement of the company’s global reputation and contribution to Dubai’s positioning as a pivotal business hub.

“Since inception, DWTC has consistently built international repute as a strategic driver of growth for the region’s MICE sector and 2016 has continued this trajectory, delivering strong double digit performance across the business. Our strategic agenda to build a highly diversified events calendar for Dubai has been instrumental in allowing DWTC to retain undisputed regional leadership in the global MICE industry,” said Shaikh Ahmad.

Through 2016, DWTC’s Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC) venue hosted 298 MICE and business events, including over 100 mega-events, delivering a record 3.03 million attendees, delegates and visitors to these events reflecting double digit year-on-year increase over 2015 traffic.

With international participants growing four per cent each across the number of visitors and the number of exhibiting companies, DWTC’s venue welcomed over 1.05 million foreign business travellers to Dubai last year, representing a strong 45 per cent of its overall mega-event participant volumes.

35,526 foreign exhibiting companies from 185 countries participated at events in DWTC accounting for nearly 70 per cent of the total exhibitor base, further contributing to the rise in MICE contribution to business tourism volumes and consequently driving up the wider economic impact generated for Dubai. The primary source for visitors continued to be dominated by the proximity markets and Europe – Saudi Arabia, India, Oman, Iran, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar and Jordan.

“DWTC is recognised as a world-class entity in the global exhibitions industry with the ability to sustainably deliver an international platform for businesses from the East and West to connect, access and service emerging markets in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia regions. The foundations it has built, and the continued momentum of its delivery will allow DWTC to become an even more dynamic facilitator of international trade within a diversified local economy that supports sustainable growth, employment and prosperity,” said Shaikh Ahmad.

Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director General of DWTCA and Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and CEO of DWTC, said that DWTC’s priorities are strategically aligned with the Dubai Plan 2021 and the goals of economic diversification and sustainable development of the UAE and Dubai. “Today, we are well-positioned to continue to aggressively pursue a strategic innovation agenda to deliver against the 10X growth vision set by our Ruler His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for the nation. Our short and medium-term goals and initiatives integrally link smart technology and digital innovation to the delivery of new standards in ‘customer experience delivery’ – ultimately geared towards attracting more international visitors and repeat travellers to Dubai for business,” he said.

DWTC recorded high occupancy levels as it continued to report growth in scale of existing shows and added 26 new entrants including 7 exhibitions, 6 associations and 13 conferences, of which 11 were categorised as mega-events, with more than 2,000 participants.

DWTC’s mega-events attracted 2.3 million participants, with 88 of the top-tier exhibitions recording an average traffic of nearly 25,500 attendees per event. Mega-shows organised or hosted by DWTC in the healthcare, security, food, travel, technology and construction sectors achieved year-on-year growth across visitors and exhibitors, reinforcing consumer and business confidence in the entity’s ability to incentivise show content innovation, successfully stage operations, and attract a high quality of participation from around the world.

“As we look ahead through 2017 and beyond, we have embarked on a holistic series of strategic initiatives aimed at driving future growth and innovation to establish DWTC as the global innovation leader for the MICE sector, integrating its core business operations and services, and setting new benchmarks to deliver exceptional visitor experiences,” Al Marri said.

Noteworthy events in 2016

• Gulfood, the world’s largest annual gathering of food business professionals and suppliers, registered a 10 per cent year-on-year increase in visitors and a 4 per cent increase in the number of exhibitors with a record number of 93,005 attendees and 5,000 exhibitors from 181 countries.

• The Big 5, the region’s largest building and construction show, witnessed an incredible 22 per cent growth and attracted 79,500 visitors.

• Gitex Technology Week, a game-changing technology and innovation event, brought together over 145,000 industry professionals and 4,473 exhibitors from 173 countries – an increase of 7 per cent over 2015.

• Intersec, the leading international platform for the security and safety industries, experienced a 14 per cent increase of trade-only visitors with over 1,280 exhibitors presenting their latest products and innovations – an increase of 4 per cent from 2015

• Arab Health welcomed 4,187 exhibitors (3 per cent increase) and 115,207 medical and healthcare professionals, an 8 per cent increase over 2015.

• Newer shows such as Gulfood Manufacturing – only in its second edition – witnessed an impressive 12 per cent increase in the number of visitors and a 4 per cent rise in the number of exhibitors

• Gitex Shopper remained immensely popular attracting around 200,000 people.

• Middle East Electricity had a strong content concentration on the most pertinent future-focused global aspects of energy security and sustainable power, which resulted in a remarkable 23 per cent increase in the number of visitors to the show.