Dubai adds innovation to destination status

Dubai adds innovation to destination status

Over the years, Dubai’s rapid transformation has put it at the forefront of key sectors of the global economy. A strong focus on innovation is now further boosting the city’s economic diversification and in turn enhancing Dubai’s status as an international meetings hub.

Taking its lead from the UAE National Strategy for Advanced Innovation, Dubai is today building a reputation for its knowledge base and the visionary strategies of its leaders, put in place to accelerate innovation across key sectors, including renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space.

Dubai has been consistently ranked the “Most Innovative City” in the region and the highest-ranking city for deployment of smart city apps — with the highest awareness, usage and satisfaction among its residents. This rapid evolution of innovation and digital transformation has made its way into the city’s infrastructure, bolstering not only the aforementioned verticals, but playing a major role in the business events sector, enhancing the delegate experience and creating lasting legacies.

These benefits extend to the associations, businesses and other organisations from around the world that are hosting their events in Dubai.

Physical infrastructure

Several factors — ease of air connectivity, wide variety of venues to host any type of event, leisure attractions, and a robust hotel room inventory — all play a role in positioning the city as a business events hub. But in an environment where destinations around the world are able to highlight these robust factors, innovation continues to play a key role in attracting international business events to the city.

Innovation can provide the edge

Planners recognise the culture of innovation here and the opportunities to bring their delegates to an exciting environment, especially when there are advances being made in their respective professions right here.

As part of the UAE’s innovative space programme, we proudly witnessed Hazza Al Mansouri, the first UAE astronaut to visit space. The successful space mission is testament to the strides made by the UAE’s leadership, which have inspired a roster of space-related events to take place in Dubai, including the Humans in Space Symposium and Young Professionals in Space Conference in 2019. Building on this, Dubai is set to host the International Astronautical Congress this year, with Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre as the host organisation. At a time when final preparations are being made for the launch of the “Hope” probe as part of the Emirates Mars Mission next year, space is a frontier that is clearly ripe with opportunities for more business events.

Sustainability is another theme

With the launch of the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036, which aims to ensure sustainable access to water during both normal and emergency conditions in line with local regulations and the World Health Organisation standards, a host of innovations are at the cusp of ensuring that once the strategy is implemented, key objectives such as savings of Dh74 billion and the reduction of the emissions of carbon dioxide — associated with the water desalination process by 100 metric tons — are met.

This has also inspired major knowledge sharing platforms, such as The International Desalination Association’s (IDA) to host the IDA World Congress in Dubai for the second time in 10 years. The biennial congress is the world’s most anticipated and prestigious desalination and water reuse events. One of the reasons Dubai was chosen as host city in 2019 was for the leadership’s recognition of the necessity of pioneering water technology.

Health care resonates strongly

The alignment between the focus on innovation in a specific sector and the benefits reaped by the business events industry are perhaps best seen in health care, with Dubai rapidly becoming a destination of choice for associations in key medical and scientific fields. Events recently hosted such as the World Congress of Neurology and those on the horizon such as the Global Symposium on Health Systems Research 2020 and the World Congress of Gastroenterology 2021 are a testament to the permeating impact of innovation.

Dubai Business Events (DBE), the city’s official convention bureau and part of Dubai Tourism, is playing a vital role in driving the number of events, highlighting the opportunities for associations, businesses and organisations around the world to tap into the culture of innovation here. Building on the strong programme of home-grown events such as Gitex, Wetex and AI Everything, the conferences and congresses DBE is able to attract further boost innovation here.

When it comes to sharing knowledge and innovation, the city will be further elevated by Expo 2020 Dubai and its central theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. From the inspiring thematic and national pavilions to the major events being hosted at the Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC) within the Expo site — including the World Government Summit, BlockExpo and World Blockchain Summit 2020 — it will create unique and unforgettable experience for business delegates and visitors alike.

As His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai said: “Human beings, their ideas, innovations, dreams, and connections, are the capital of the future. Because where great minds go today, great things will happen tomorrow.”

- Issam Kazim is CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM).