MICE IS NICE

Saudi Arabia 2016 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to HRH Prince Saud Abdullah Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz, Chairman of Riyadh Exhibitions Company (REC), on the company's comprehensive plan, the MICE industry in the Kingdom, and economic diversification.

HRH Prince Saud Abdullah Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz
BIOGRAPHY
HRH Prince Saud Abdullah Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz graduated from the Royal Military Academy SandHurst in the UK in 1966 prior to serving in the Saudi Air Force until 1976. He is the Chairman, CEO and shareholder of Saudi Investment Group & Marketing Ltd in addition to his role as Chairman of the Riyadh Exhibitions Company.

REC is the leading organizer of corporate gatherings and major events in Saudi Arabia. What are the key elements that have made the company successful?

The MICE industry is a challenging sector governed by several criteria, and companies working in the field often find it hard to thrive and succeed. However, from our prolonged experience in the market, we found that the keys to success are in fact simple, as it is all about the structure and organization. We at Riyadh Exhibitions Company have set a comprehensive plan following a systematic approach that includes four main stages: the planning stage, the pre-exhibition phase, the exhibition phase, and the post-exhibition phase. Choosing the right exhibitions, developing identity and branding, planning the exhibition structure, identifying our target exhibitors, and implementing the appropriate marketing plan are all key. Then, the logistics part follows, designing the floor plan, providing the on-ground support, all the way to registration, crowd management, media support, and wrapping up the whole show. All these are just headlines of a complicated and detail oriented process that enable us to have a successful portfolio of events.

To what extent can the MICE sector contribute to the tourism sector?

The MICE industry is a main contributor to the development of the tourism sector and several countries across the world rely on exhibitions to attract a huge number of visitors from across the globe. Saudi Arabia is a vital business hub in the region and the world, and we cannot neglect the government's efforts in supporting the tourism sector. Business tourism is an essential part of this sector. Challenges still exist in this sector despite all the efforts, but we believe that with the current Vision 2030, major changes will occur that will be in the favor of this industry.

How do you expect the MICE sector to grow in the medium term?

Vision 2030 is promising and the rules and regulations that will be enacted will definitely have a positive impact on the economy in general and the MICE industry in particular. The MICE industry promotes the economic significance of the country and supports the openness of the Kingdom to the international players and attracts thousands of investors who are eager to enter the Saudi Market. We certainly have a positive outlook on the sustainable advancement of this industry in the near future.

What are your ambitions as Chairman of REC for the role that the company will play in the sector going forward?

REC is one of the first companies that started in this business in the Kingdom. We have contributed to the success and the progress of this industry, and this has been witnessed by the increased number of companies working in this field. We believe this sector will have a positive impact on the economic diversification plans in Saudi Arabia, and we work closely with all supporting bodies, such as the Saudi Exhibition and Convention Bureau to develop the related internal and external environments to accomplish the sector's economic, cultural, and social objectives.

What are your specific expectations and goals for 2016 for REC?

REC will plan, organize, and manage more than eight sustainable shows addressing the vital sectors in the Kingdom. These shows include: Saudi Print & Pack Plastic & Petrochemicals, which is the largest industrial gathering in the region; Saudi Health, the Kingdom's largest healthcare event; Saudi Build, dedicated to supporting the construction sector in the Kingdom; Saudi Agriculture, which is looking to unlock the potential of a vital sector; and the Riyadh Motor show, which is one of the most prominent automotive shows in the region. We are also always screening the market for developing new shows that can add value to the Saudi Market. Our dedicated team is always seeking to attract international shows to the Kingdom, and we have several shows that will be announced in the near future. REC is also in the business of organizing trade fairs in promising markets in the region.