Which added value does the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) give to the tourism sector in the Sultanate?
As the pride of Oman tourism, and the heart of the country's conferencing and exhibitions industry; Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre is the place where “the world meets and celebrates.” OCEC continues to establish new business partnerships among a growing list of local tourism sector suppliers. We are also contributing to the development of local SMEs in this sector, while attracting greater mobilization of investment. Through our MICE-related activity, we provide a direct boost to local suppliers such as a hotels, airlines, transport service providers, event organizers, food and beverage suppliers, and tour guide companies. It is also worth noting that OCEC provides a platform for international networking opportunities; for strengthening international relations; for sharing research and technology advancements; for enhancing professional development within the local population; and for increasing awareness of major Omani sponsors.
Which experience do you aim to provide to your visitors when they meet at OCEC? Which kind of events do you host?
The Oman Ministry of Tourism's slogan is “Beauty has an Address”. This natural and cultural beauty is also reflected through OCEC's interior and exterior design, through our professional and friendly team, and through the OCEC catchphrase “where the world meets and celebrates”. As Oman's premium events and conferencing venue, we provide a full portfolio of events space, including two tiered auditoriums, five exhibition halls, meeting rooms, our Grand and Junior Ballroom, hospitality suites, and a VIP Pavilion. We also have a multi-story car park with a capacity for 4,000 vehicles, while OCEC's Precinct includes a business park, with the 5-Star JW Marriott Hotel linked to the OCEC itself, and the 4-Star Crowne Plaza Hotel. Since it's opening in October 2016, OCEC has hosted the very best shows and celebrations of regional and international industry, science, medicine, sport, art, culture, and social life. In terms of our event and conferencing activity, it is worth noting that during the COVID-19 pandemic, OCEC was successful in finding “new solutions for a new normal”. One such new solution was our adoption of hybrid events – limited-capacity events combined with larger virtual audiences attending the same meeting online. OCEC has also recently rolled out a range of new services and facilities for event organizers.
How are you contributing to the sustainable future of Oman? Are your facilities eco-friendly?
Through its tourism-related activities, OCEC is aligned with the nation's Oman Vision 2040 strategy to develop a more diversified economy – that is less reliant on the Oil & Gas/energy sector. This is a key component to establishing a more sustainable future for Oman. In terms of the venue itself, OCEC makes use of environmentally sustainable design practices that meet international LEED Gold certification - accredited by U.S. Green Building Council. OCEC also enjoys a reduced annual carbon footprint through its use of solar power for water heating systems, and through its advanced “green building” style with open spaces and expansive concourse areas. In addition, OCEC's energy center serves as a district cooling plant for the entire Madinat Al Irfan east precinct – delivering more energy efficiency for the complex. Extensive use of natural lighting also accompanies the building design, and the OCEC complex overlooks a wadi and wetland nature reserve, which is home to a variety of Oman's exotic birdlife and flora.
The OCEC has been converted into a vaccination point. At which extent have you contributed to the immunization process?
OCEC was in a prime position to facilitate a successful rollout of the Oman Ministry of Health's National Vaccination Campaign for COVID-19 – in large part due to our capacity to host large numbers of visitors, and our flexibility and experience in providing infrastructure for events of all kinds. For the rollout, OCEC allocated over 100,000 m2 to cater to an expected 10,000 vaccination visitors on a daily basis. As a mark of OCEC's effectiveness, a quick vaccination turn-around time was achieved: From the time of arrival, to the time of departure after receiving the vaccination, the journey did not take more than 20 minutes.
You are hosting important events in 2022 such as “Oman Sustainable Week”, “Oman Design & Build Week” and the “Petroleum and Energy Show”. How these events aim to be a networking and sourcing platform for the national and international community?
For the national and international community, these events provide a platform from which to share research findings and technology advancements; enhance professional and academic development; provide international recognition for individuals, businesses, and the host committee. Of course, they also provide an opportunity for major sponsors to engage directly with their target audiences. Very importantly, they also serve to showcase Muscat and Oman on the world stage.
Which are your long-term plans and aspirations?
OCEC's vision and goals align with the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism (MoHT) National Tourism Strategy 2030 which foresees an overall increase to 11 Million international and local tourists per year within Oman; the development of additional tourism clusters; growth in tourism-related job creation for Omanis, and an increased contribution to the country's GDP. Overall, OCEC plans to continue being a premier-choice destination in the region for the world's Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Events (MICE) tourism sector.