The 57th ICCA Congress, one of the most prestigious events in the international association meetings industry calendar, has just begun in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with more than 1,150 senior meetings industry professionals and association meeting planners from almost 80 countries in attendance.

Congress delegates have descended on the city from across the world to experience a dynamic four-day programme of education, networking and business opportunities. ICCA and Dubai Business Events, the city’s official convention bureau, have collaborated to create an exciting offering of forward-thinking education sessions, site visits to Dubai’s most innovative enterprises and a social programme showcasing the best of Emirati cultural delights and local hospitality.

The 2018 edition of ICCA’s annual flagship event has achieved record attendance figures for any ICCA Congress held outside of Europe: a total of 1,156 industry experts from 79 countries have travelled to Dubai for the meeting. Organised with the support of key local partners including Dubai World Trade Centre, Congress Solutions International, Emirates and Dubai Business Events, the city’s official convention bureau, the Congress brings together senior meetings industry professionals to exchange knowledge and ideas about the latest trends in international association meetings and business events.

Business events are increasingly being recognised as a crucial driver of Dubai’s economy and positioning as a global business centre. As a global knowledge hub with a strong reputation for innovation, hosting the ICCA Congress offers Dubai a unique opportunity to present its extensive meetings infrastructure to business events heavyweights from across the globe, and in turn optimise international expertise to drive the development of the region’s rapidly-evolving meetings industry.

Nina Freysen-Pretorius, President of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) said: “The number of international association meetings has doubled every ten years since the establishment of ICCA 55 years ago, and we have identified the Middle East as an important growth area. In fact, we now have a dedicated seat for the region on our board, a permanent regional director, and this is our first annual congress in the Middle East.

“We have also noted that the Dubai Association Centre is playing a significant role in growing global associations. In addition, we look forward to 2020 Expo Dubai, because when new ideas and people connect, our industry grows.”

Welcoming delegates to the Congress, His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai Tourism said: “Business events are a crucial part of not only our tourism strategy, but our wider economic development. Whether through the year-round calendar of home-grown trade shows – or major congresses like the ICCA Congress that we successfully bid for – we understand and use the power of meetings and conferences to facilitate the rapid transition to a knowledge economy, and to grow scientific advancement and key industry sectors in Dubai and the UAE.

“I would like to once again thank ICCA for selecting Dubai to host this congress, and to the Local Host Committee and all stakeholders involved for their role in planning. Our thanks also go to all the sponsors and supporting organisations of this event.”

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