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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.

28 / ConferenCe & Meetings World / issUe 67Advertising FeatureAntwerp which will take only 25 minutes," she adds. Brussels offers organisers more than 60 conference and meeting venues, which can host up to 10,000 delegates; 1,500 restaurants with 120 able to host groups of over 100 delegates; and 145 hotels with over 14,000 rooms. In Brussels organisers can organise memorable events in larger spaces such as the Square or Brussels Expo; or in unique hotels such as Le Plaza with its old Theatre Royal, whihc has a capacity of 400 delegates; and meeting venue Claridge with its digital wallpaper walls. Hotel Bloom was recently voted in the Top 20 Trendiest Hotels in the World and let's not forget to mention The Amigo, located just off the Grand Place."Antwerp has an array of fabulous venues such as the Hilton Antwerp and the Horta Café," says Mathews. "Currently organisers can use a variety of venues, including The Zoo, Hangar 29 and Elzenveld. "In terms of hotels there are many choices including the newly-renovated Crowne Plaza, the fabulous Les Nuits plus many others."For Ghent, organisers can use the Old Fish Mine, which has been transformed to into a trendy venue and the stunning Marriott that sits flanders: the crossroads of europeflanders offers organisers More than ChoColate, Waffles, MUssels and beer it has a range of UniqUe and Unforgettable Meeting spaCes WhiCh are gUaranteed to leave a lasting iMpression on delegateshe Belgian region of Flanders, which includes Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp, offers a unique meetings proposition for a variety of events and all within two-three hours of most of central and western Europe. If travelling by train, Brussels, the capital city of Flanders, is less than two hours away from London, Amsterdam and Paris and just under three hours away from other major European cities. Access routes via Belgium's dense train system mean not only can event organisers transport groups of delegates around the country easily and quickly but also more sustainably, helping to add to an event's CSR programme. Most of Flanders' historic cities are within an hour from Brussels, which holds the seat to the European Parliament and is home to the NATO headquarters. With over 90 museums, several Michelin star restaurants and a rich history, the city is a melting pot in terms of culture, heritage, arts and entertainment."The region's strengths in the international meetings arena lie in the fact Flanders-Belgium is at the heart of Europe, with the EU, NATO and over 1,000 associations based in Brussels, our destination provides a perfect backdrop for events, conferences and product launches," says Meetings, Incentives and Conferences Manager for the Flanders-Brussels Convention Bureau, Sarah Mathews. "Delegates from around the world can get to Flanders easily and each city is less than an hour away from Brussels International Airport, which means that delegates have options to have events in Bruges, Brussels, Antwerp or Ghent."We have the new train route from Brussels Airport direct to T