Consistent growth in ICCA’s global membership and the concurrent expansion of the international association congress market are the twin foundations that have enabled ICCA’s Board of Directors to announce the opening of two new regional offices on 1 September this year.

Ms. Chris Prieto, CMP, will become the South African based Regional Director covering the African region, and Mr. Gamal Sadek from the Al Ketbi Consultancy will become Regional Director for the Middle East, based out of Dubai.  Both bring a wealth of experience in frontline sales and marketing, and in-depth knowledge of the meetings industry in their regions of the world.

Announcing the appointments during a keynote address to the SAACI (Southern African Association for the Conference Industry) Congress in Johannesburg, South Africa, ICCA President Arnaldo Nardone stated: “This isn’t simply a move to deliver better services to our existing members in these two regions, but a recognition that the international association meetings market is continuing to evolve, and it is in the growth of regional meetings that we anticipate some of the most dramatic future developments.  This trend is already well established in Asia and Latin America, and it is certain that Africa and Middle East are starting to move down the same road, as we have seen from recent moves to create an African society for association executives.  What this implies is that there is going to be more business for our existing members in these regions, more new events to identify and add to the ICCA Association Database, more new infrastructure developments, more understanding of the strategic importance of association events by city and national governments, and more interest in ICCA by potential new members.  It is strategically important for ICCA to build a long-term presence in these markets.”

ICCA now has five regional offices in addition to its Head Office in Amsterdam, with established operations already serving Asia-Pacific, North- and Latin America.

Welcoming the announcement, Rashid Toefy, CEO of the Cape Town International Convention Centre and Chairperson of the ICCA Africa Chapter said: “Chris has tremendous experience in attracting international meetings to South Africa, is already well known by many members, and knows ICCA inside-out, so we believe she’ll be an excellent asset for our members throughout Africa and will be able to help continue the excellent growth we’ve seen over recent years.”

Chairperson of the ICCA Middle East Chapter, Medhat Nassar, Managing Director of Meeting Minds Dubai added his endorsement of the move: “ICCA is a global association so it is great news to see this investment in frontline support for members in our fast-developing region.  Gamal is not only a strong professional with an excellent reputation, but he is backed by the resources of Al Ketbi Consultancy to help open diplomatic and cultural doors in some of the key emerging destinations where ICCA is currently not so well known.  This is a powerful combination.”