Dubai continues to grow in stature as a hub for regional and international associations, with organisers lauding the success of the inaugural Dubai Association Conference and emphasising the opportunities available in the emirate.
The two-day event took place at Dubai World Trade Centre from 11-12 December and attracted over 300 delegates, including associations and industry experts, from 32 countries.
It was hosted by the Dubai Association Centre (DAC), a joint initiative of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). It was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council.
His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and Dubai World Trade Centre, said: “The inaugural Dubai Association Conference marked an important step in Dubai’s journey to becoming a key hub for associations. The combination of international and local speakers provided a rich programme for all delegates and the strong attendance reflected the enthusiasm for knowledge sharing and professional development in this field. We would like to thank all the speakers and participants who generously shared their expertise and all the partners who supported the event.
“Almost 50 associations have already established a presence here through the Dubai Association Centre, with many more in the process of setting up or expressing an interest in joining. Each of these associations has the potential to work with Dubai Business Events, the city’s official convention bureau, to bring more major business events to the city and in turn contribute to international visitor growth. With Dubai already ranked as one of the top 10 destinations for international meetings, according to the Union of International Associations, Dubai Association Centre will play an important role in maintaining the city’s business events momentum.
“Together with stakeholders across the emirate, Dubai Association Centre will continue with efforts to facilitate the establishment of associations in Dubai and ensure they are able to contribute to growth of the knowledge economy.”
His Excellency Hamad Buamim, President and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry said: “The success of the first Dubai Association Conference is a testament to Dubai’s growing appeal as an attractive hub for regional and international associations. The premier event provided an ideal setting for association representatives to engage with public and private sector stakeholders, and address key issues that are facing the global association community. We look forward to building on this progress in the future by using the conference and the Dubai Association Centre platform to attract more associations and international events to Dubai, and promote associations as an integral part of Dubai’s economy and value proposition.”
Day One of the conference at Dubai World Trade Centre focused on further building the association community and showcasing Dubai’s vision for the future. In the event’s opening session, His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and Dubai World Trade Centre, and His Excellency Hamad Buamim, President and Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, discussed their vision for growing the association market community in Dubai and the wider Middle East region.
Meanwhile, Day Two of the conference focused on skills development for association executives and sharing best practices from around the world in order to provide attendees with the required tools to succeed.
‘The Impact of Associations’, a session delivered by Susan Robertson, President of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Foundation, highlighted how associations have a unique opportunity to make great contributions to their country’s economy, competitiveness, and quality of life.
“The role that we all play is to make the world better, smarter and safer – that is the work of associations around the world. When I think about the potential of all of us in this room, and the broader community that we connect with, it’s enormous. We have the power to affect resources, knowledge and practices around the world, and the more we unite together to do that, the better off the world will be,” said Robertson.
In another session titled ‘The Future – Associations & Government Unite’, Dr. Noah Raford, COO and Futurist-in-Chief at Dubai Future Foundation and Dr. Samir Hamrouni, CEO of World Free Zones Organization, discussed how associations and governments can work together and how they are embracing new technology.
“30 years ago, Dubai and the UAE were 100% oil-based economy; today oil contributes to just 30% of the [UAE] economy. So, the Dubai journey started with a huge effort of diversification, by seeing what is happening outside and investing heavily to diversify the economy within the UAE,” Dr. Hamrouni told the audience.
With the number of associations steadily growing across the Middle East region, the conference aimed to offer a vital platform for networking and knowledge-sharing, in an effort to further boost progression across industries. The Dubai Association Conference was held under the theme ‘Building a Community’ and bringing together association executives, government representatives, university faculties and students, as well as professionals who are interested in forming associations.
Supporters and partners of the inaugural Dubai Association Conference included MCI, ASAE, PCMA, ICCA, IAPCO, AfSAE and the Global Association Hubs Partnership.
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