Dubai Business Events (DBE), the city’s official convention bureau, recorded its most successful year to date, winning 129 bids and proposals for upcoming conferences, meetings and incentive trips in partnership with local stakeholders such as Dubai World Trade Centre, Emirates Airline, hotels as well as Destination Management Companies and Professional Congress Organisers.

The number of future business events secured by Dubai Business Events increased by 79% in 2016, compared to 2015, consolidating Dubai’s position as a leading destination for business events. The economic impact of these events is estimated at close to AED400 million and will bring in an estimated 75,000 additional visitors to Dubai over the course of the next 6 years.

Notable wins included Congress of the Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology Annual Congress 2017, World Congress of Cardiology 2018 and World Down Syndrome Congress 2020. One main driver of last year’s success was the Al Safeer Ambassador Programme, through which over 350 prominent local scientists, healthcare professionals, business people and government officials assist Dubai Business Events in bringing international meetings and conferences to Dubai by leveraging their global connections and influence.

In 2016, Dubai Business Events’ Congress Ambassadors assisted in securing bids for 25 meetings and conferences, with an expected attendance of over 30,000 delegates between now and 2021.

Issam Kazim, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said: “Dubai’s business events sector has made tremendous progress and is firmly positioned on the global stage as a leading destination for international business events. We owe much of the success to our ambassadors who have played an important role in attracting several meetings and conferences to Dubai. As our reputation as a premier business event destination continues to grow, it provides the city with a unique opportunity to showcase the scale of our ambition in finding solutions to worldwide challenges, the diversity of our economy, and our keenness to collaborate as we build a stronger knowledge economy.”

Meanwhile, in addition to winning a record number of bids overall in 2016, Dubai also hosted several major events for the first time. In February, the Global Women’s Forum welcomed over 2,000 participants and 200 speakers who discussed the growing influence women have across the world and how to encourage greater contribution and diversity across the business world. Additionally, in March the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), an industry leading peer network of chief executives and business leaders, hosted its landmark event, YPO Edge, in Dubai. In September, the Society of Petroleum Engineers held its Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Dubai, representing the first time the event has been held in the Middle East in its 92-year history. The event was attended by over 7,500 oil and gas professionals representing 91 countries and numerous industry leaders.

In December, Dubai Business Events hosted the first-ever BestCities Global Forum. The BestCities Global Alliance is a strategic collaboration between 11 of the world’s top meeting destinations and the event held in Dubai attracted 35 international association executives, including from World Autism Organisation, International Society of Endocrinology, World Obesity Federation and SWIFT, in addition to representatives from all 11 of the BestCities partner cities.

Throughout 2016, Dubai Business Events continued to focus on in-bound study missions to showcase the destination’s dynamic offering and world class business event capabilities. The division hosted 12 international study-missions, bringing more than 300 hosted buyers and over 40 international trade media from the business events industry to Dubai. The tailored itineraries showcased the variety of hotels and event venues available. The attendees also experienced the city’s expanded leisure offering with visits to new attractions such as Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, IMG Worlds of Adventure, Dubai Parks and Resorts and Burj Khalifa.

Looking ahead to 2017, Dubai is already preparing to host a number of major business events, including Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology Congress, International Primary Immunodeficiencies Congress as well as several incentives from major international companies.