Abu Dhabi has over the years evolved as a prominent business travel hub in the world. It is among the two Middle East cities that were placed in the Top 100 rankings as the busiest destinations for conferences and business meetings. Dubai was the other city in the Gulf which also made it to the top 100. The annual rankings were published by the International Congress and Convention Association in 2012. Abu Dhabi successfully hosted 22 association meetings in 2012 as compared to only 8 in 2011. The city’s profile has grown phenomenally and it is now placed alongside major meetings destinations like Cologne, Las Vegas, Perth, Brasilia and Atlanta.
Recent statistics indicated that Abu Dhabi is fast growing as a significant hub for taking connecting flights. This also amply demonstrates that the business travel segment in the city is getting busier by the day. Media reports said that the UAE national carrier Etihad Airways has expanded its global network and extended its reach to important cities worldwide such as Dallas, Los Angeles, Medina, Perth, Zurich, Phuket, Yerevan, Jaipur and Rome in 2014.
Even the UAE government is leaving no stone unturned in projecting Abu Dhabi as a destination for exhibitions, conferences, incentives and meetings. Leading travel experts say that with Abu Dhabi emerging on the business travel scene, a major boost has been given to the hotels industry leading to its overall growth. A hotel industry expert said that hotels in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai have been doing good business. There was approximately 13 percent growth in business travel segment as compared to last year.
The Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) business has shown an upward trend with more global corporations opting for Abu Dhabi as an ideal destination for hosting conferences, conventions, exhibitions and meetings. So far, in 2014 the city has hosted global airline conferences and luxury car launches with nearly 38 percent of those being business travelers.
A study conducted recently revealed that the business travel sector in the city made huge earnings to the tune of estimated $653 million in 2010. This will however grow drastically by 2020 and is likely to generate $1.39 billion. The study, which was conducted by the International Association of Professional Congress Organizers, said that the business travel sector globally is already worth $5.6 billion per year.
According to Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (IBTM) Industry Research Report published in 2013, nearly 68.5 percent of Middle East buyers were expected to increase events spending in 2014 as compared to 59 percent buyers who enhanced their events budgets last year.
The UAE government wants to aggressively promote Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman as the major cities in the country for hosting meetings and conferences. Abu Dhabi is already hosting several key meetings in 2014. These include International Exhibition for Security and National Resilience, Cityscape Abu Dhabi, and International Airport Transport Association’s slot conference for airlines.