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Exhibition World | Region profile15In 2009, DWTC recorded a12 per cent increase in visitornumbers and a 2.5 per centincrease in exhibitors on2008. First-half figures for2010 show continued growthwith a 13 per cent increase invisitors year-on-year.A tranche of new anddiverse exhibitions andcongresses corresponds withDubai's plan to increasetrade, tourism and services. Because exhibitions and eventsplay such a huge role in driving up business tourism, DWTCis working towards the target of 1.5 to two per centcontribution to the Emirate's economy.With the events arena becoming increasingly competitivein the Middle East, DWTC is continuing to develop in orderto stay ahead of the curve. Currently, the venue hostsalmost 35,000 exhibitors over a portfolio of more than 100events. In 2011, DWTC will continue to target visitors from the Middle East, North Africa, former-CIS countriesand India.In 2011 the DWTC will try to supplement its exhibitionportfolio with entertainment events and concerts, with thenew Trade Centre Arena at the centre of the action. "We work very closely with government stakeholders andpartner agencies such as the Department of Tourism andCommerce Marketing, Dubai Airports and Emirates Airlinesto actively promote Dubai via destination marketingcampaigns," says chief executive officer Helal SaeedAlmarri, "specifically those that target the internationalbusiness community."Working with regional and national bodies and soon tocomplete a major venue extension, DWTC hopes lowerprices and government cooperation will not only drawinternational visitors but help their visits run smoothly.DWTC Venues (sqm): Dubai International Convention andExhibition Centre (92,000sqm)Dubai Airport Expo (33,000sqm)Largest single hall: DICEC's Za'abeel hall (15,002sqm)Sharjah Expo Centre, SharjahSharjah Expo Centre is one of the oldestexpo centres in the region, beginning life in1976 before being acquired in 1994 by theSharjah Chamber of Commerce andIndustry. The venue, which offers16,000sqm of indoor and 15,000sqm ofoutdoor space (gross) has grown overthe years and while not as large as itsneighbours in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, isnow able to house large internationalexhibitions.Sharjah joined UFI two years back, and will be a sponsorfor the association's Global CEO Forum in Geneva inFebruary and will host the UFI Middle East Open Seminar inMarch. According to director general Saif Mohamed Al Midfa,2011 brings with it a significant change in Sharjah'sapproach to exhibitions, not least because for the first time,the venue and organiser is opening its doors to internationalorganisers. "Where we were more focused on the B2C side in thepast, now we're moving more towards the B2B andconventions side; and we have more space now," says AlMidfa. "We used to think locally. This kept us very informedon a world perspective. We used to think locally and adaptglobally. Now we think globally and act globally."One area of business Expo Centre Sharjah is looking foris to serve as a hub for the Indian market, a service thevenue offers via its Indian trade and exhibition initiative.Sharjah has around 20 daily flights to different parts of India."A lot of business comes from India, and this will continueto be the case. India is lacking in venues and theinfrastructure is not very developed. They have a hugenumber of people, and the UAE is their biggest partnerworldwide, according to the Sharjah Ministry of Economy,"says Al Midfa.To some extent the retrenchment and reduction onmarketing spend throughout the recession has led toincreased desire for involvement in exhibitions now that themarkets are becoming buoyant again. People want to getback out there, meet face-to-face and rekindle oldrelationships. "On the B2B side, more people want to show what theycan do. A great platform for them is exhibitions. Ourstrategy, as a venue owner and as an organiser, is to haveour own exhibitions," he says. "We've lately had approvalfrom our board to allow other organisers to come andorganise their exhibitions in our venue, as long as they don'tconflict with the profile that we have."In 2011 we are going to open our doors to theworld," he adds.Total floor space: 16,000sqmNumber of halls: 4 x 4,000sqmCeiling: 10mGross outdoor space: 15,000sqmTHE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW.EXHIBITION-WORLD.NET| February 2011|Helal Saeed AlmarriSaif Mohamed Al Midfa