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The benefits of hosting international events

Hamed Ahli

International in-person events, such as conferences, meetings, and incentive travel programs, bring significant benefits to economies and countries. Host cities enjoy an increased global profile, growth in local employment, immediate and short-term economic benefits, and increased long-term investment.

In light of Dubai’s efficient handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and its rapid recovery, the emirate continues to grow as a globally desirable location and as a world leader in large-scale events. After securing over 120 bids for events in 2021, Dubai aims to host 400 events annually by 2025, an endeavour that will continue to spur the region’s rapid economic growth.

How do cities benefit from hosting in-person events?

By hosting international events, cities open themselves up to the world and provide a single location for like-minded individuals to gather.

This facilitates the sharing of culture, values, connections and expertise, bringing significant cultural and economic upside potential to people and businesses attending the events and the host city itself.

Increased global profile

Positive international perception is essential if foreign companies and tourists are to invest in and visit a given country or city. Hosting global events provides this opportunity to demonstrate to the world, either by first-hand experience or third-person observation in the international media, what the city and country have to offer.

For example, by hosting international events such as Expo 2020 (October 1st 2021, to March 31st 2022) and the BIR World Recycling Convention & Exhibition (October 2022) so soon after the global pandemic, Dubai has shown the world the emirate’s ability to adapt, formulate, and implement safe travel and social interaction protocols.

The positive repercussions are significant. For example, Dubai’s gastronomy scene gained international acclaim in 2022, further assisting recovery from the pandemic and encouraging ongoing tourism. Boasting over 13,000 cafes and restaurants – more than any other location in the MENA region – the emirate earned the “4th best destination for food lovers” in TripAdvisor’s 2022 Travellers’ Choice Awards. This accolade will positively impact the Dubai gastronomy and tourism industry.

Growth in local employment and short-term economic benefits

When considering the benefits events bring to a host city, it can be helpful to visualise the journey of a person attending that event.

International visitors must fly into the city (often requiring a travel visa), go from the airport to their accommodation, find places to eat, entertain themselves, shop, move within and around the city, and find their way to and from the event site.

This activity involves using the local infrastructure, transport systems, hotels, restaurants, attractions, and services, providing a much-needed cash injection into the local economy. For example, Expo 2020 attracted over 10.12 million international visitors to Dubai, accounting for an average of 495 occupied hotel rooms daily and generating significant revenue for Dubai’s tourism and hospitality sectors.

Moreover, unlike major sporting events such as the Olympics or World Cup, which only last a few weeks, global events such as trade expositions and conferences provide a more stable source of ongoing income for local businesses.

Thus, by establishing itself as a highly desirable location for global events, Dubai helps boost local businesses’ earning potential and generates tax revenue that can be used to reinvest in the city’s infrastructure.

Long-term investment and extended tourism

Delivering an international event experience to millions of visitors requires an established, high-functioning, and well-maintained public and private infrastructure.

Particularly post-COVID, health monitoring protocols, safety precautions, and policies must be implemented to satisfy international travellers and reassure them about the safety of their journey to and from a city.

The development of such protocols requires significant investment by the host city in the short term, but this investment pays off in the long term by attracting future events and visitors.

Long-term investment in a city or region’s infrastructure can also have long-lasting impacts on the area’s appeal as a destination for both domestic and international travel, extending the boundaries of tourism beyond that of the immediate effect of the international event.

How Dubai stands to benefit from international events in the near and long term

Having held over 120 international events in 2021, and with plans to host over 400 events annually by 2025, Dubai has become a highly attractive host location for conference and event managers from all sectors.

Dubai’s diary dates over the next three years include events from the food and beverage, international apparel, tobacco and gemstone industries, along with HR conferences, cryptocurrency expositions and global supply chain summits. During these events, Dubai will welcome thought leaders, entrepreneurs, companies, and enterprises from all cultures, backgrounds, and countries, enabling them to make connections and share knowledge and experiences.

In doing so, the city stands to further its reputation as an international hub, continue growing the local economy, and further the long-term investment plans and infrastructure of the city, the emirate, and the entire region.

Living and working in a vibrant global hub

Beyond an economic perspective, a city that hosts a diverse array of international events attracts leading individuals worldwide. These men and women congregate in a single place to grow their networks, expand their businesses, and experience the unbeatable thrill of a gathering of like-minded people from diverse backgrounds.

By earning a reputation as a global hub, Dubai becomes a melting pot for ideas, connections, invention, and innovation – somewhere where the world’s leading minds can come together and create a unique experience not available anywhere else.

While the short-term and long-term economic benefits are clear, giving the international community the opportunity to gather in such a manner secures Dubai’s and the UAE’s legacy as instrumental in the future development of global trade, cooperation, and business.

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