Feature: $1.3 Billion GCC Meetings and Incentives Industry to Continue Growing at Pace
The GCC’s USD 1.3 billion Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry is set for continuous growth and expansion.
Alpen Capital’s latest report stated that the number of international association meetings in the region has more than tripled over the last 10 years, earning for the Gulf global prestige as a popular meeting and incentive hub.
The MICE industry is one of the key growth drivers for the region’s burgeoning economy, making significant contributions through income and employment along with attracting substantial foreign investment.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman have emerged as the top three MICE destinations in the region because of their state-of-the-art infrastructure and facilities such as world-class venues for conferences and seminars and a well-developed hospitality industry, supported by their strategic location and easy connectivity with the rest of the world.
The UAE boasts nearly 50 percent of the $1 trillion construction projects currently underway in the GCC, enabling it to emerge as the top MICE destination in the region. With its successful bid to host World Expo 2020, the UAE will continue its lead through its well-established business events industry.
Dubai, host to almost 27 percent of all events staged in the region, is set to welcome more than 25 million visitors over a period of six months during the Expo. Abu Dhabi, on the other hand, generates $700 million from its MICE sector and is forecasted to grow at an annual rate of seven percent to reach $1.4 billion by 2020.
Dmg events, an international events company with an office located in Dubai, is a key player in the GCC’s thriving MICE sector. It has facilitated the growth of the sector by hosting a series of high-profile and industry-relevant exhibitions and conferences.
It currently organizes 25 annual events across the MENA region, which include The Big 5 in Dubai, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, The Hotel Show and Leisure Show in Dubai, the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC), the International Design Exhibition (INDEX), Middle East Concrete, and PMV Live, among others.
Simon Mellor, President, dmg events- Middle East & Asia, said: “The GCC’s MICE industry has witnessed an exponential growth, contributing towards the region’s economic stability. Like in any country, the sector, which is instrumental in furthering organizational objectives and success, plays a fundamental role in the UAE’s overall economic development.
“For one, meetings, conventions and exhibitions create economic value with increased travel and hospitality spending by MICE visitors who combine participations in events with leisure. More importantly, business events consistently provide powerful platforms for creating new information and fresh insights, helping boost the grand vision of the UAE leaders towards transforming the country into one of the world’s knowledge economies.
“The public and private sectors have also made substantial investments to upgrade transport and hospitality infrastructure along with venues for conferences, exhibitions, concerts and sports in a bid to attract more business visitors. dmg events helps drive this growth through its international experience and professional expertise in organizing large-scale events across various industry segments.
“We extend our support and cooperation to the GCC as it becomes the focal point for some of the world’s leading international MICE events”.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”