Monday 26th March at 13.00 during GIBTM in Abu Dhabi Sally Greenhill launched the latest IBTM meetings industry research and facilitated  discussion of what is happening in the world of meetings in the Gulf/Middle East/ North Africa region.

Panellists include Dr Edith Szivas who works for the Jumeirah Group as Director of Research and Consultancy at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in Dubai, Rob Nicholas, Managing director of MeetMe publications in the region and Ayman Aridi from U Group worldwide based in Lebanon.

The meetings industry in the Middle East region is forecasting growth over the next twelve months with 65% of buyers saying the volume of events will increase and 54% saying budget per event will increase over the next twelve months.

Average budget per event in the Middle East was $46, 117 with average spend per buyer in the region $1.02 million.  More events with budgets of over $100,000 were held in Dubai which had an average per event of $58,000, yet high means were also experienced for Iraq and Palestine ($87,500), where the laws of supply and demand seem to be requiring higher budgets. Abu Dhabi appears to be seen as the good value destination with more events for under $10,000. It also scored best on the satisfaction ratings with the highest percentage of excellent scores for any destinations, beating off competition for this ranking from Dubai, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The top countries for volume of events in the region were UAE (mainly Dubai and Abu Dhabi), Saudi Arabia – this year seeing far greater volume than any previous years of the survey – Lebanon, and Egypt.  Popular countries outside the region were India, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey and Sri Lanka.

As with conference markets in most parts of the world the majority of the business is taking place within the region with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and Kuwait the countries generating most meetings. It therefore follows that the great proportion of delegates attending events are from within the region. However it is noticeable that more delegates are now coming from Asia, pushing some of the European countries that were the greatest generators of delegates down the rankings.  Probably to be expected, India and China are the greatest generators of delegates from Asia.

This is no doubt linked to the fact that Associations are now forming a greater share of the business in the region than in previous years (as they seek to attract more delegates from Asia) and this follows through into 58% of the responding buyers organising conventions and congresses.

Top corporate sectors are oil/gas, pharmaceutical/medical, financial services, training and education, electronics/communications, pushing the traditional sectors of IT and automotive down the rankings.

The issues that would most impact on increasing meetings and events business are related to competitive rates/intelligent pricing and added value, followed by innovative products, and new destinations creating the WOW factor. Thankfully economic recovery, political stability and security in the region are all now less of an issue than they were twelve months ago although clearly Lebanon is being affected by events in its neighbouring Syria. Other lesser issues were visas, airlift and airport taxes.

New technologies are being embraced as rapidly within the region as they are elsewhere in the world with 73% of suppliers making use of social media to communicate and 39% of buyers using virtual meetings to extend audience reach. Over 10% of buyers and suppliers are already using cloud computing, a figure that has risen rapidly even in the last six months.

For a copy of the research results please contact





le East/ North Africa region.

Panellists include Dr Edith Szivas

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