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ICCA Middle East reaches 50 member-milestone in fastest growing region for association meetings

Due to increased activities on education, networking and advocacy, ICCA membership in the Middle East region has increased over 70% in the last 18 months. 

ICCA developed strategic “Meetings Industry Development Forums” to enhance association meetings industry knowledge in the region, which involved local suppliers and associations, who were educated on how they could become association meeting ambassadors and take part in a bid. The Forum also engaged international thought leaders to share knowledge and best practices and further build the knowledge economy in the destination. 

The ICCA Meetings Industry Development Forums were hosted by the national tourism board or convention bureau and they were organised in most of the Middle East countries. 

In addition, ICCA has been organising workshops addressing the pharma compliance implemented globally, a bidding and budgeting workshop exclusively for the UAE association segment, a workshop developing the association knowledge of Convention Bureaux, and a workshop for meetings industry stakeholders in Dubai.

The forums and workshops have been very successful and participated by over 90 industry stakeholders. The learning outcomes have been very productive and all Middle East ICCA member countries have requested ICCA to organise similar forums in 2018.

Apart from education and networking, ICCA has played an active advocacy role in the region. ICCA has been working very closely with the Convention Bureaux of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and the Bahrain Tourism Authority in developing the association market segment, the strategic approach on international bidding, the engagement of local associations in the global meetings industry and creating a road map on how to develop local and regional associations.

ICCA’s business philosophy is built on the foundation of sharing knowledge about international association meetings, something ICCA members have been doing for over 50 years. ICCA extends this thinking into every type of business and knowledge exchange it is involved in, so ICCA members are used to talking honestly about both their successes and their failures, and ICCA aims to extend this type of thinking to non-members who attend ICCA events.  

ICCA Middle East reaches 50-member milestone
ICCA opened its permanent Regional Office in the Middle East in 2016 and has deployed numerous activities to advance the association meetings market in the region.

ICCA CEO Martin Sirk said: "ICCA took the strategic decision to open a full-time Regional Office in Dubai at the start of 2016.  The association sector is taking off in the Middle East, driven by growth in an educated, professional middle class, a desire for professional education, standards and accreditations, and an understanding by international associations that this is a market of great long-term potential. We started building activities of ICCA in the region form 2016. One of the approaches towards development was building 2018 ICCA Congress legacy in 2016, with our first Middle East Forum, which was designed to help the local industry understand the strategic importance of the international association meetings sector. And of course, having set up a formal Regional Office and appointed industry veteran Senthil Gopinath as our Regional Director Middle East, we have the resources to ensure that ICCA’s legacy will continue for many years after the Congress, through higher membership, stronger support and training, and higher Middle East attendance at our global events outside the region."

ICCA Regional Director Senthil Gopinath added: "We are delighted to experience the immense growth in the Middle East Region. The Meetings industry is on a rapid growth. Some of the key reasons for same is development of modern meetings infra structure, Government and meeting industry willingness to enhance the meetings knowledge. Constant awareness created amongst the association segment shows high level of interest of participation in the industry by the association representatives. The association meetings sector is entering a new and exciting phase in this region, for both suppliers and organisers."

Middle East fastest growing region for hosting international association meetings
Globally, the number of association meetings has doubled in a decade: from just under 6,000 in 2006 to over 12,000 in 2016. The market share of the Middle East region has grown even quicker: from 100 to 255 in a decade. This growth of over 250% is the largest for any region in the world.

The estimated total number of participants in the Middle East has grown from just of 100,000 in 2007 to an average of almost 200,000 in the last 5 years.

Most meetings were about medical sciences and technology. The amount of technological meetings is higher than in other parts of the world.

Tatiana Rokou

Tatiana is the news coordinator for TravelDailyNews Media Network (, and Her role includes monitoring the hundreds of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skimming the most important according to our strategy.

She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.