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Abu Dhabi26 / ConferenCe & Meetings World / issUe 67Global vision in Abu DhabiPaUl Colston goes to abU dhabi dUring World oPthalMology Congress at the adneC Centre. the venUe's Chief sales and Marketing offiCer hUMaid al dhaheri shares his vision DNEC has come a long way in a short time. What remains to be completed?ADNEC has certainly come a long way. Today, we have a world class venue that has won several industry awards and attracted a diverse and expanding list of events. We have the International Convention Centre Abu Dhabi, 12 exhibition halls, Conference Halls A and B, 19 Capital Suite meeting rooms, with indoor, outdoor and quayside space amounting to 133,000sqm, to cater to the needs of every type of event. Nearly 3,200 hotels rooms are available either on site or within a 10-minute driving distance from the venue. A further 700-plus rooms are to be added by the end of this year. The venue also has facilities such as the airport check-in for visitors. The construction activity on ADNEC and Capital Gate is complete. Construction at the adjacent Capital Centre development is still ongoing, and each developer there has its own timeline for completion. A 242-room Premier Inn and International Tower, a commercial tower located at Capital Centre, have just opened. Some of the other towers (at Capital Centre) are due for delivery this year, including two new Rotana hotels. What have been the major successes at ADNEC to date?From 14 events in 2005, we went on to host 231 events last year, (a 56 per cent increase over 2010). We staged the World Ophthalmology Congress, (WOC 2012, 16-20 February), Abu Dhabi's largest ever conference, bringing in 10,000 delegates. The successful staging of this event will, we hope, open the door to many more of a similar scale. Other major congresses planned for this year are the UFI Congress and Routes 2012. There's also a strong line-up of other recurring events, including the World Future Energy Summit, GIBTM, Cityscape Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC). The many awards that we have won - including successive 'Best International Venue' in 2010 and 2011 at the Exhibition News Awards and the recent World Travel Award for 'World's Best Meetings and Conference Centre 2011'- are a striking endorsement of ADNEC's industry standing. Our on-site hotels, the ADNEC-owned Aloft Abu Dhabi and Hyatt Capital Gate, have provided a tremendous boost to our venue. Has the global economic recession held back any of your bolder plans?Our commitment to the industry has been firm and showcased by the investments we have made. We have found that a few events at our venue have changed format to adjust to the new market conditions. But, Abu Dhabi is one of the most stable economies of the world and has become a priority, as other markets have struggled. In line with Abu Dhabi's rising international importance, ADNEC continues to attract new events. below: humaid al dhaheriA

Abu DhabiISSUE 67 / ConfErEnCE & MEEtIngS World / 27Above: VIPs at the opening ceremony of WoC 2012Which markets you are looking to attract specifically to ADNEC for events?We really are only starting to scratch the surface of what's possible here in terms of industry sectors that can be covered. The Abu Dhabi 2030 plan identifies sectors for strategic investment and growth, including: Energy, Petrochemicals, Metals, Aviation/Aerospace/Defence, Pharmaceuticals/Biotech/Life Sciences, Tourism, Healthcare, Education, Transport / Logistics, Media, Financial Services and Telecommunications. How do you see the future of association business at the venue?The creation of ICC Abu Dhabi will have a strong impact. Already we have attracted a number of new congresses and are bidding for several others together with the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority. The venue lends itself very well to this type of event, as our experience with the World Opthalmology Congress (WOC) 2012 has shown. The range of onsite accommodation, (five-star, four-star and three-star), as well as accommodation within the wider area, makes it an attractive choice. WOC 2012 is an important component of the 2030 plan to diversify from hydro carbonshumaid al dhaheriWOC 2012: the UAE's biggest ever congressFollowing significant investment in its ADNEC convention centre, the Emirati capital staged the 33rd World Ophthalmology Congress (WOC 2012) in February, an event which brought 2,200 speakers and 10,000 delegates from 136 countries for the biggest ever convention held in the UAE capital.Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court; Prince Abdulaziz Ahad Abdulaziz Al Saud, Chairman of the Middle East Africa Council of Ophthalmology (MEACO) and Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and of ADNEC, all attended a VIP opening ceremony at ADNEC.It was the first time the congress, the oldest continuous international medical gathering, had been held in the Middle East. It is estimated 22m people suffer from visual impairment in the MENA region.President of the International Council of Opthalmology, Bruce Spivey, MD, told delegates the congress had been the most rewarding WOC Congress to date."With this meeting, Abu Dhabi is presenting itself as an ultra-modern, highly advanced, medical and business meeting destination," said MEACO Chairman Abdulaziz Al Saud.WOC 2012 also used 11,000sqm of exhibition space, 31 hotels and involved 60 participating societies organising scientific sessions.Organisers claimed 85 per cent of WOC 2012 delegates were making their first visit to Abu Dhabi.There were free shuttle bus services, discounted green fees on the golf courses and tickets to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the world's largest indoor theme park, for delegates. Muslim attendees wishing to join Friday prayer at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque were also taken by free shuttle from ADNEC.The ADNEC portfolio embraces now not just the centre in Abu Dhabi, but Excel London and the Al Ain project. What are your plans for developing the global strategy?We now own and operate three venues, all performing very well. Our focus will be on developing them and best optimising their facilities to attract more events. We are creating significant economic impact for the emirate of Abu Dhabi as well as the city of London. This sector is about benefitting the overall economy and in this regard we have made good progress. Having a venue network broadens the platform for our clients, while enabling exchange of best practices and improving business flow between venues. We also run a successful secondment programme which sees small groups of ADNEC recruits spend several months working at Excel London, to gain wider experience. Are you receiving good returns on your venue investments?Our venues deliver significant economic impact to Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and London and showcase our commitment to the event industry. We are pleased with the contribution that these venues are making to the overall event industry and to the cities in particular. How does ADNEC fit into the Abu Dhabi 2030 plan for economic development?The event industry is an important component of the 2030 plan to diversify and avoid being solely reliant on hydro-carbons. In 2010, ADNEC generated AED 2.3bn (US$626m) in economic impact for Abu Dhabi. Our emiratisation is well over 40 per cent, another indicator of our commitment to the government's strategy to build the UAE national workforce.