Middle East & Africa Article Library

Middle East & Africa Article Library

Plans for Expo 2020 Dubai have been further strengthened through a wide-ranging agreement with Informa.

The deal will bring some of the region’s major business and entertainment events to Dubai Exhibition Centre, co-located at the expo.

Dubai Exhibition Centre will host a number of events organized by Informa during Expo 2020, including the 20th Cityscape Global (November 10th-12th), the largest real estate investment and development event for emerging markets globally; Middle East Film and Comic Con (March 4th-6th), the region’s biggest festival of pop culture and gaming, expected to attract more than 45,000 people; and the inaugural Games Con (March 4th-6th), dedicated to the growing online gaming community in the region.

Informa was also announced as an authorised ticket reseller, supporting Expo 2020’s goal to attract 25 million visitors to the show.

Najeeb Mohammed Al-Ali, executive director, Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau, said: “Informa will be bringing some of the most exciting and popular events in Dubai to the DEC, enabling visitors to enhance their experience with all that Expo 2020 has to offer.

“This significant agreement builds on DEC’s growing reputation as one of the most innovative and connected event and entertainment venues in the world.”

Expo 2020 will not only be a spectacular event, but also a time to connect, create and innovate.

Visitors, exhibitors and delegates will be able to combine the full suite of Expo 2020 visitor experiences with DEC events, summits, seminars, product launches, networking opportunities and meetings.

Peter Hall, president of Informa Markets in Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “Informa has been operating in the Middle East, with Dubai as its hub, for over 25 years.

“Dubai has established itself as a global meeting point for business, and we have enjoyed enormous success thanks in no small part to the Emirate’s drive for world-class infrastructure and experiences, which Expo 2020 is set to build upon.

“As we prepare to attract thousands of guests to the DEC next year, we are excited to be working with the Expo 2020 team in delivering the best possible experience for our participants and visitors.”

The agreement with UK-headquartered Informa follows the announcement of other major events to be held at DEC during Expo 2020, including the World Government Summit and the Global Islamic Economy Summit, both of which will take place in November 2020, as well as the Global Business Forums on Africa, Latin America and ASEAN and World Chambers Congress 2021, all hosted in partnership with Dubai Chamber.

The rise of business events across Saudi Arabia 

Historically the economy in the Middle East has been built on selling oil, with the countries there investing little capital in other sectors. Today, all that has changed. The price of oil has dropped and, in a world where environmental pressures mean global powers are determined to stop burning it as fuel, the price of oil is unlikely to ever recover.

Thus, the oil-rich Middle Eastern countries have been forced to rethink and refocus and they are implementing broad economic strategies. Saudi Arabia has launched a wide-reaching social and economic initiative, Saudi Vision 2030, with an ambitious goal to develop the economy across industries that include technology, healthcare, tourism, education and finance.

The country is also a lead player in the region’s international trading block – the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). With similarities to an early version of the European Union, GCC is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union, with membership consisting of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Because of Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom is experiencing rapid change in infrastructure, business and across society. As a business events destination, Saudi has its own characteristics, requirements and dynamics. The culture here – and across the Middle East – is very much about personal relationships. Business people expect to engage in small talk on a personal level before the true purpose of your business interests is raised. They want to know you on a personal level before business is discussed, which means face to face meetings and hospitality are an important aspect of doing business here.

Saudi has ambitions to become a meetings and business events powerhouse. To achieve this, Saudi Vision 2030 includes momentous plans for socioeconomic reforms. All sectors in the Kingdom are following a three-step strategy designed to help them achieve their shared goals: reforms, increased productivity and enhanced competitiveness.

Talking to the Associated Press, Prince Sultan bin Salman, head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and the oldest living son of King Salman said: “[Saudi Arabia] is open for people that are doing business, for people working in Saudi Arabia, investing in Saudi Arabia, and people who are visiting for special purposes. And now it will be open for tourism again on a selected basis.”

Since the announcement of the reforms, the importance of the country’s MICE industry has multiplied significantly, and it has experienced a boom in the number of conferences and exhibitions it hosts. Saudi’s MICE industry grew by 16 percent in 2017 – around 4.5million attendees to over 10,000 business events. Saudi capital Riyadh counts for around 15% of the country’s tourism and almost half of all business events in the kingdom are held there.

However, these figures are negligible compared to expectations for the future. The meetings and events sector in Saudi is growing by leaps and bounds, so visitor numbers will keep increasing over the coming years, with a forecast of 30million visitors per year by 2030 – and Saudi is already preparing.

The country is using its oil-wealth to invest in building technologically-advanced event facilities to cope with the predicted rise in visitor numbers. It will turn 50 Red Sea islands into luxury beach resorts. The Red Sea Project will be built between the cities of Amlaj and al-Wajh. Building work will begin toward the end of 2019 and the first phase will be completed in late 2022.

The project will create a special economic zone in the Red Sea, with its own regulatory framework, visas on entry, relaxed social norms, and improved business regulations. It is hoped this will deliver a world-class international tourism destination.

Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), the country’s sovereign wealth fund, will make initial investments to build the resort and will seek partnerships with international investors and hoteliers.

Saudi is also said to be building an entertainment city to rival Las Vegas, while making significant investments in road, rail and air infrastructure. To make event logistics easier for event planners, the country has privatised its previously state-owned aviation sector and is currently building more than 50 new four and five-star hotels – with a combined 11,000 bedrooms. In total, Saudi Arabia currently has over 140 ongoing hotel building projects that will add 55,810 bedrooms.

To help fill those rooms, the Saudi Exhibition and Convention Bureau (SECB) has initiated “the Envoy Program”. It’s an initiative to recruit envoys in government agencies, associations, chambers and federations to help these bodies engage with international organisations and to discuss partnership opportunities, with the overall aim of attracting business events to the Kingdom.

The Envoy Program forms part of the wider strategy and many other initiatives that the Saudi Arabian government is hoping will transform Saudi into a regional and global meeting hub.

The country already has a firm advantage over the obvious competition, the UAE – especially Dubai. Its four key cities – Riyadh, Makkah, Madinah and the Eastern Province – have huge potential, they are almost 15 times bigger than the UAE in size, with much larger populations. Additionally, these four provinces combined have a bigger economy that the UAE, with more infrastructure, a larger number of professionals, more international airports, hotels, international visitors; they even offer more sites of heritage and antiquities.

In terms of numbers of business events or the size of the industry; Saudi demand and supply on the meetings industry is much bigger and stable, with high potential powered by Saudi Vision 2030.

Commenting on the growth of the Saudi meetings industry, ICCA CEO Senthil Gopinath said, “The meetings industry does not grow in a vacuum. It is linked to business activities, especially international, and the development of the local association, scientific and health care communities. It also depends on the importance of a country as a market. Sometimes growth in meetings industry infrastructure and capacity follows these wider trends, sometimes, thanks to strong government leadership or visionary companies, it can work as a catalyst. Anyone paying attention to what’s happening in Saudi Arabia will be aware that there is a huge amount of change taking place. Saudi Arabia is really getting serious about meetings industry developments.”

Be in no doubt, as the oil-money runs low, Saudi is burning hot on a new fuel. The Kingdom has fixed its fortunes on the power of tourism, business conferences, meetings and events and the rest of the world will watch on as amazing transformations take place.

International Fairs Group (IFG), is a growing organisation offering a full range of exhibitions and event management services to a wide variety of clients across the world. The company, which is located in Cairo  has remarkable experience in the field of organising and managing international specialised trade fairs.

IFG has an expanding network of international agents and offices around the world and the company has been involved in the corporate event management business for an number of years.

IFG aims to provide businesses, exhibitors and visitors with a wide range of unique exhibition services. Their experienced staff ensure clients are well served, are always comfortable and have all relevant information to help them succeed at their events. All events organised by IFG are designed to help each client reach their target audience ensuring positive business experiences each and every time they exhibit at one of their shows. Visitors are able to experience new ideas in new areas, increasing the capability to learn on desired subjects.

IFG’s main objective is to contribute to the process of technology transfer from the worldwide producers to the emerging markets. The Middle East and Africa, is a wealthy region, with North Africa pushing itself forwards as a great option for those shows looking to geo clone themselves to different areas of the world. The aim is to help push the region forwards by contributing to the growth of the regional economies. IFG will achieve this through bringing buyers and sellers across a number of different sectors together for direct interaction on the show floor.

With a number of shows, Handling Expo and Machtech just two of them having recently taken place at The Egypt International Exhibition Centre, the company is progressing nicely as is the exhibition industry in Egypt as a whole. EDEX (Egypt Defence Expo), run by Clarion events was incredibly successful in its first outing in 2018 and as a region, North Africa certainly is pushing itself forward as a viable option for all events looking to geo clone themselves. 

Spintelligent has been operating across the African continent for more than 18 years, delivering market leading live events including African Utility Week, POWERGEN Africa, DRC Mining Week, Future Energy Nigeria and African media titles ESI Africa and Mining Review Africa. Acquired, in 2010, by Clarion Events Ltd, a global top 3 ranked exhibition and media business, Spintelligent has continued to operate under its original trading name.

The local management team are thrilled to announce today that the business is evolving to the Clarion Events global brand and will become the African office in the global network of connected offices across all five continents. The rebrand will be effective from 1 November 2019, launching a new chapter for one of South Africa’s most successful exhibition and media businesses.

David Ashdown, MD, Clarion Events, Africa

David Ashdown, Managing Director, Clarion Events, Africa, “I have had the privilege to lead this incredible Spintelligent team in Cape Town for six years now and it has been fantastic. During this time our parent company has grown to become one of the most recognised global exhibition and media companies globally, it is therefore time, and aligned with our global strategy, to rebrand our local business and benefit from a trusted global identity. I am excited as we move into this new chapter. During the last 18 months our focus has been on consolidating our portfolio to core sector activity across Power, Mining and Gaming, where we deliver live event, print and digital products. We are a lean, agile and strong business with a fantastic forward forecast.”

Ross Hastie, Group Director Media, “we produce four leading African and international media titles to global markets and a major part of our value proposition is to give our clients and partners access to a truly global network. This name change illustrates how, while retaining local expertise, we can harness the influence and competence of Clarion’s global infrastructure.”

Russell Wilcox, CEO Clarion Events based in London, adds “the newly branded Clarion Events office in Africa delivers a portfolio of products across core group aligned industry sectors; Power & Energy, Mining and Gaming. The global reach of the group in these sectors means that the African editions can make a positive contribution to the advancement of industry across the continent. The strategic focus of the local business sees a continuing convergence between the digital and live event world, whilst focus on content and knowledge is key to the development of the projects and the sectors.”

David Ashdown, comments further, “during the past two years we have consolidated our portfolio to core sector interests and African territories, we are a more adaptable and streamlined business now, placing more emphasis on the relationship between the live events and media mediums. We take great pride in serving our audiences quality content and a customer experience that benefits the bottom line of a business. As a group, Clarion Events is committed to the region and the development of industry across the continent. We continue to invest in our local team through coaching and training, supporting the South African mission of building the leaders of tomorrow.”


Held under the patronage of the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, H.E. Mr. Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani, and in the presence of the Chief Executive Officer of BTEA, Mr. Nader Al Moayyed, the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) inaugurated the 4th edition of the Sea Festival on the 7th of November. The event is held in collaboration with Eagle Hills Diyar.

Since it first launched in 2015, the Sea Festival celebrates the Kingdom’s historical ties to the sea showcasing a wealth of folklore and handicrafts still practiced by Bahrainis today.
The Sea Festival will feature a wide range of activities suitable for all age groups, including water activities such as exciting water sports and boat rides around the beach, as well as recreational, shopping and educational experiences. Adding to the festive atmosphere, visitors will also be able to enjoy the various food and beverage vendors available.

Visitors will also be able to enjoy the various pop-ups on the beach, including a maritime museum showcasing the Kingdom's rich history, highlighting the island's close ties to the sea, and around-the-clock traditional performances, where local bands will reveal glimpses of local folklore to the audience. A number of distinguished craftsman creating traditional handicrafts will enlighten visitors on the origins and trade secrets passed on through the ages, alongside a number of pearl merchants showcasing the famous pearls the Kingdom is known for.

The Festival will also include an outdoor cinema, which will display exciting shows and stunning scenes featuring an on-stage Sea World Performance (Del Mare), as well as a number of other activities organized to better familiarize children with the Kingdom’s deeply-rooted pas and sea legacy.

“We are delighted to be hosting the 4th edition of the Sea Festival, which will feature an exciting range of activities and live performances inspired by the Kingdom of Bahrain’s rich sea history. We welcome all visitors from the Kingdom and neighbouring GCC countries to attend the festival. At BTEA, we strive to organize and host these leading events that work towards further developing the local tourism sector and increasing its contribution to the national economy,” said the Chief Executive Officer of BTEA, Mr. Nader Al Moayyed.

Hosting The Sea Festival comes in line with the BTEA’s overall strategy aimed at developing and strengthening the tourism sector under the slogan ‘Ours. Yours’, which contributes towards the Kingdom’s economy and 2030 Economic Vision.