TAKING CENTER STAGE

Abu Dhabi 2019 | CULTURE & TOURISM | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri, Group CEO of Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC), on fast-tracking Abu Dhabi's economic diversification, the importance of the Year of Zayed, and technology's impact on the world of event planning.

Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri
BIOGRAPHY
Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri is one of the dynamic leaders who joined Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) when it was founded in 2005, after a 10-year career with leading governmental and non-governmental entities in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Since then, he has played a significant role in raising ADNEC’s profile as a leading event venue at regional and international levels, and has played an integral role in defining ADNEC’s revised corporate strategy and company vision. Prior to his appointment as ADNEC’s Group Chief Executive Officer, he held several senior positions at ADNEC including Chief Commercial Officer, a role through which he significantly contributed to ADNEC’s development into one of Abu Dhabi’s most dynamic organizations.

How do the events and exhibitions hosted by ADNEC in the past year reflect the current trends of Abu Dhabi's economic and business environment?

ADNEC witnessed a steady growth in the number of exhibitions and events hosted in the past year, which reflects the robustness of our diversified national economy and the growing confidence of global investors in its long-term outlook. Over the past year, ADNEC managed to increase its direct and indirect contribution to non-oil GDP growth of Abu Dhabi—demonstrating our continued support for the objectives of Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 by hosting and/or organizing ADIPEC, IDEX, SIAL, World Skills, and Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, along with other leading events and exhibitions. We also attract and organize a diverse portfolio of high-profile global congresses and exhibitions, the most prominent being the Abu Dhabi International Boat Show's inaugural edition. Business tourism is a key contributor in the growth of Abu Dhabi's tourism sector, and ADNEC contributed AED3.89 billion (USD1.06 billion) to Abu Dhabi's economy in 2017, attracting some 2.082 million visitors to the capital. This also contributed to 693,000 hotel nights occupancy in 2017. All this fast-tracked economic diversification in Abu Dhabi enabled domestic industries to accelerate growth, especially in knowledge-based and export-oriented sectors.

What is the importance of the Year of Zayed for the UAE, and how does ADNEC seeks to incorporate this commemoration into its business strategy?

Sheikh Zayed's achievements are a remarkable source of pride and honor for everyone in the UAE. It inspires us to work hard to fulfill ADNEC's vision of supporting sustainable economic growth. Sheikh Zayed was keen to preserve the UAE's rich cultural heritage, and ADNEC renews its commitment to preserving the Emirati culture and enriching the lives of residents and visitors alike, by hosting events that cover various cultural and social spectrums. In fact, 2018's edition of the Abu Dhabi Book Fair was in recognition of the late Sheikh, in line with the Year of Zayed initiative. As a company, we are also keen to create awareness among our employees through internal programs and among the community through digital screens installed at our group of companies and our social media channels.

How does technology impact the world of event planning in Abu Dhabi?

One of ADNEC's main priorities is to make use of the latest technologies to improve the experience of organizers and event planners. By adopting the latest, cutting-edge technologies, we have been able to provide our staff with the tools they need to offer improved services to our clients. Our website allows organizers and exhibitors to order the relevant services needed to prepare for an event of any kind, type, and size, at the click of a button. We have also built a 150MB free Wi-Fi network for all visitors and exhibitors, the fastest in the region among exhibition centers, along with latest technologies in parking systems. At the same time, cooperation with players in the tourism industry, such as the Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau, is crucial to promote Abu Dhabi's MICE credentials globally by bidding for major regional and international exhibitions and internationally rotating association meetings. The key focus is to increase the share of large events and conferences in sectors like science, technology, engineering, education, and healthcare. Moreover, by supporting initiatives such as the Hosted Buyer Program, upgrading our infrastructure and services, and working closely with private organizations through initiatives such as Fikra Labs, Abu Dhabi's list of competitive advantages as a world-class destination will grow.