Complex Made Simple

UFI Middle East/Africa chapter meets in Sharjah

With the region’s meeting, incentive, conference and event (MICE) industry forecast to experience robust growth, a high-profile meeting of industry stakeholders in Sharjah took stock of opportunities and challenges facing the industry.

The high-profile leadership coordination meeting of the Middle East/African Chapter of the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI), Paris, held at Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Thursday (Dec 18) discussed activities and initiatives required to be developed by UFI for the benefit of its regional members.

The meeting was attended by Mr. Humaid Mohamed Bin Salem, Secretary General of the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry; UFI MEA Chapter Chair Mr. Abdullah Al Omran, CEO, RICEC, Riyadh; First Vice-Chairman Mr. Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, CEO, Expo Centre Sharjah; Second Vice-Chairmen Mr. Amer N. Tabbah, Managing Director, Sofex, Jordan; and Mr. Hossien Esfahbodi, Managing Director & Chairman, IIEC, Iran.

It was also attended by UFI Board Members Mr. Abdul Rahman Al Nassar, CEO, KIF, Kuwait; and Mr. Albert Aoun, CEO, IFP, Riyadh, and UFI office bearers Mr. Paul Woodward, Managing Director, Paris, and Mr. Ibrahim Alkhaldi, MEA Regional Manager, Sharjah.

“The meetings and exhibitions industry has seen tremendous growth, which has contributed to the country’s economic development. Today, the UAE is one of the biggest MICE markets, and the number of events taking place in the country has gone up phenomenally in the past decade. I believe the UFI Chapter will have a big role to play in the future growth of the industry here,” said Mr. Waleed Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, Second Vice-Chairman, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, when he received the UFI members at SCCI.

The Middle East/African Chapter of UFI is located at Expo Centre Sharjah. The UFI is the prestigious association of the world’s leading tradeshow organisers and fairground owners, as well as major national and international exhibition associations, and selected partners of the exhibition industry.

“Frequently changing economic and geopolitical events unexpectedly throw up opportunities and challenges in equal measures. At the meeting, we discussed ways to take benefit of the prevailing market conditions and how the UFI MEA Chapter could help realize them,” said Mr. Midfa.

“We realised that there could be several challenges as well… here again the UFI MEA Chapter could help its members ride out the problems,” Mr. Midfa added.

The meeting also reviewed the outcome of the 81st Congress in Bogota, where more than 300 attendees from 46 nations gathered from October 29 to November 1, 2014.

“The Bogota congress had made it clear that the very nature of exhibitions must evolve to reflect changing industry needs, blurring the distinctions between event categories, and the need for UFI to continue adjusting its focus and services to reflect this,” added Mr. Midfa.

The meeting also discussed the preparations for the Open Seminar in Marrakech (Morocco) scheduled from March 23 to 25, 2015.