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The art of differentiation

For centuries, Oman has been a trading hub between east and west, a vital transcontinental crossroad, and a common stopover point between Europe, Asia, and Africa. This global image has done wonders for all sectors of the economy, and in recent years, the government has been leveraging it to make Oman an ideal meeting place for businesspeople, a first-class destination for the business tourism segment, and a center for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE). Central to this drive is the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC), a future-proof venue with 100,000-sqm of total exhibition and convention area. Although mostly known for its capacity and various event areas, the OCEC is also scoring wins in the sustainability area, as it is LEED certified by the US Green Building Council. On the back of such feats, despite opening only opening three years ago, the center has made inroads into a highly competitive regional market and has already hosted close to 350 events, including the 40th SICOT Orthopedic World Congress, World Hospital Congress 2019, ITB Berlin 2020, World Cancer Congress 2020, the Perfume Exhibition 2019, and Muscat International Jewellery Exhibition. As a matter of fact, Oman is the only country in the Middle East to host the SICOT Orthopedic World Congress.

Located just 4km from the new Muscat International Airport, OCEC is actually part of the Madinat Al Irfan project, which features W Marriot and Crowne Plaza hotels, a business park, retail shopping areas, residential districts, a nature reserve parkland, and a wadi park. The Sultanate’s largest urban development project, Madinat Al Irfan combines sophisticated infrastructure and innovation to improve OCEC’s function and boost Oman’s appeal as a conference and exhibition destination.
Given how the global events industry is becoming more tech-centric by the day, the contribution of OCEC to Oman’s events industry as a future-proof venue with the ability to provide customizable spaces and seamlessly adopt new technologies is also invaluable. During his interview with TBY, OCEC CEO Said Salim Said Al-Shanfari explained how the OCEC is continuously digitalizing “processes to provide faster, more efficient services and to more thoroughly monitor quality control.” For example, the center’s “website provides a 360-degree virtual tour of the entire venue, with 3D maps of the rooms, allowing international clients to fully experience the venue ahead of time.” Such advancements will indeed go a long way toward assisting Oman in leaving a mark on the regional and global MICE industry.

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