Around 100 delegates from 16 countries attended the UFI Conference for the Middle East and Africa in Dubai (UAE), held at the Dubai World Trade Centre on 8-9 April, making this the biggest conference so far that UFI has organized in and for the region.
With the theme “Embracing change and looking forward to the future”, a mix of speakers from both inside and outside the business events industry discussed the role of smart technologies, economic outlooks and market expectations affecting our industry.
“I am very happy that we could welcome this great cross-section of the movers and shakers of our industry in the region”, says UFI MEA Chapter Chair, Albert Aoun. “This speaks to the reputation UFI has built here over the years, remaining committed to the region through times good and bad. As an honorary chapter leader, I want to explicitly thank all the industry leaders supporting our work here – their support makes all the difference.”
On the UFI stage, Enrico Gallorini, Co-Founder of GRS Research & Strategy, a company specialized in Business Intelligence, opened the conference with a strong talk about the use of SMART technologies such as the impact of artificial intelligence, virtual reality and other emerging mainstream technologies that are already in use in the exhibition environment.
Leading industry players of the region shared their strategic outlooks in markets like the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa, focusing on the potential of collaboration to expand and grow the exhibition market throughout the region.
Other Key Note Speakers were Diana Salman, Senior Consultant at Human Capital Advisory – PwC UAE (UAE) discussed the ongoing economic change on talent management and staff retention.
Paul Woodward, Chairman, Paul Woodward Advisory, and Anna Holzner, Managing Director, Formentor, underlined the necessity for exhibition organizers to reflect changes in exhibitor needs.
Eliano Marques, Vice President Enterprise Analytics –Emirates Group, presented how analytics can help to improve the customer experience, advancing an Emirates Airline Case Study on the matter.
Sophie Holt, of Explori wrapped up the two days of sessions, breaking down the global findings of the UFI/Explori Global Visitor Insights Study for the Middle East/Africa region.
In addition to the conference programme, there were multiple networking opportunities to catch up with friends and colleagues and meet new people, including a UFI Gala dinner, and the early morning UFI Running Club.
Once the sessions programme closed, conference participants got to experience first-hand the World Expo site that will host more than 20 million visitors in 2020 and 2021.
For the first time ever, key figures for the Middle East and Africa region from UFI’s groundbreaking new research on the economic impact of exhibitions were shared during the UFI chapter meeting that took place before the start of the conference. These figures were an advance preview of UFI’s comprehensive global “Economic Impact Study”, conducted by Oxford Economics that will be released later this month. The Middle East region currently sells 3 million square meters of exhibition space and hosts 125,000 exhibiting companies. Africa hosts more than 40,000 exhibiting companies whilst welcoming 2.15 million trade show visitors.
Full details of the UFI MEA Conference 2019 can be found on the event website: http://ufievent.org/dubai2019/.