According to recent statistics, the GCC's $1.3 billion Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry is set for continuous growth and expansion. Alpen Capital's latest report stated that the number of international association meetings in the region has more than tripled over the last 10 years, earning for the Gulf global prestige as a popular meeting and incentive hub. The MICE industry is one of the key growth drivers for the region's burgeoning economy, making significant contributions through income and employment along with attracting substantial foreign investment.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman have emerged as the top three MICE destinations in the region because of their state-of-the-art infrastructure and facilities such as world-class venues for conferences and seminars and a well-developed hospitality industry, supported by their strategic location and easy connectivity with the rest of the world.
The UAE boasts nearly 50 per cent of the USD 1 trillion construction projects currently underway in the GCC, enabling it to emerge as the top MICE destination in the region. With its successful bid to host World Expo 2020, the UAE will continue its lead through its well-established business events industry. Dubai, host to almost 27 per cent of all events staged in the region, is set to welcome more than 25 million visitors over a period of six months during the Expo. Abu Dhabi, on the other hand, generates USD 700 million from its MICE sector and is forecasted to grow at an annual rate of 7 per cent to reach USD 1.4 billion by 2020.
The GCC's MICE industry has witnessed an exponential growth, contributing towards the region's economic stability. Like in any country, the sector, which is instrumental in furthering organizational objectives and success, plays a fundamental role in the UAE's overall economic development. For one, meetings, conventions and exhibitions create economic value with increased travel and hospitality spending by MICE visitors who combine participations in events with leisure. More importantly, business events consistently provide powerful platforms for creating new information and fresh insights3, helping boost the grand vision of the UAE leaders towards transforming the country into one of the world's knowledge economies. The public and private sectors have also made substantial investments to upgrade transport and hospitality infrastructure along with venues for conferences, exhibitions, concerts and sports in a bid to attract more business visitors.