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The UAE's MICE Industry: At The Centre Of Evolving Opportunities In The Middle East It's the right time to invest in the MICE tourism industry to adapt to latest consumer trends and fortify itself with latest technologies, not only to meet the increasing demand, but to make it more secure and agile.

By Hanan Al Mahmoud

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Over the past two decades, the UAE's strategic development agenda and key location have made it a Middle Eastern hub for tourism and international businesses. The country has long been a magnet for worldwide travelers, and has two-thirds of the world's population within an eight-hour flight radius.

We have been maximizing opportunities for business travel growth by leading innovation in the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) segment, by simply offering a cache of value adds to corporate travelers, which have not only offered them a well-rounded visit experience, but helped the UAE's MICE sector create this synergy with indirectly related sectors such as tourism, retail, cultural destinations, and even car rentals, and inject dynamism in them.

The Gulf region's MICE segment has expanded significantly over the past couple of years, led by the UAE which commands 50% share of the region's total MICE market. This can be attributed to the country's eventful calendar all year round.

Regularly, we keep abreast of major trends affecting our MICE sector, and try to respond to these trends by offering new legislations, best-in-class technology and other means necessary to enhance customer experience. One big step in this direction was taken in May last year, when the UAE government announced its decision to provide refunds on the value added tax (VAT) paid by firms in the exhibitions and conferences sector, based outside the UAE.

Furthermore, the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, Dubai Tourism Vision 2020 and Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021 have been launched to diversify the local economy, in the fulfillment of which the MICE industry is poised to play a major role.

Regionally too, the sector will offer a big boost to the realization of the Saudi government's Vision 2030, and Bahrain Vision 2030.

Related: Doubling Down: Basel Talal, Regional Director, Radisson Hotel Group

It's the right time to invest in the MICE tourism industry to adapt to latest consumer trends and fortify itself with latest technologies, not only to meet the increasing demand, but to make it more secure and agile. From guest management software to facial recognition technology, events become more personal, efficient, quick, and provides additional non-invasive layers of security that meet client demands. This will bolster our region's position as a preferred destination for tourism and business, thus supporting the economic development which falls in line with national agendas.

The MICE industry can also contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For instance, the sector can play a major role in achieving SDG 13, which is to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. By bumping up use of recyclable materials, we cut down on waste and energy needed to collect and dispose. The location of a MICE venue also plays a part in conserving energy and cutting down carbon emissions. The more central and connected to the public transportation systems it is, the less time, fuel, effort is required to reach.

Opting for locally-sourced food and beverage supplies helps boost local businesses, conserves precious resources used in transporting materials, and ensures maximum freshness.

The Al Jawaher Reception and Conventions Center (JRCC) is proud to have embraced most of these changes and integrated industry best practices into its daily operations, which makes this unique venue in Sharjah a perfect MICE destination.

It's undoubtedly an exciting time for the MICE industry, poised for exponential growth. JRCC is constantly adapting to as well as leading change to be an active contributor to the sector's projected growth.

With the country registering steady year-on-year growth in attracting global attendance for purposes of both business and tourism, and is gearing up to host the world at landmark international events in the foreseeable future, we are ready to increase UAE's MICE capacities, and increase our appeal as one of the top global destinations for world-class business events.

Related: The How-To: Using A 'Shadow Conference' To Strike Deals

Hanan Al Mahmoud

CEO, Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre

Hanan Al Mahmoud is the CEO of Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre. 
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