Source: Manchester City webpage
In the past few blogs the author has analyzed the rapid emergence of Middle East as a favorable destination for MICE (meetings, incentive travel, conferences, exhibitions) related activities. One of the state that is making huge strides in developing itself as a word class destination for business tourism is Abu Dhabi. In the past few years it had conducted some world class events like World green tourism congress, World health care congress Middle East, Formula 1 grand prix, Red bull race, Rally Abu Dhabi to name a few and is considered as second best MICE destination in Middle East next to Dubai(HotelierMidddleEast.com, 2010) . Travel websites like lonely planets and Frommers have voted Abu Dhabi among top 10 business destinations in the world (HotelierMidddleEast.com, 2010). In the following blog the author will attempt to do a detailed SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and weakness) analysis for the MICE industry of Abu Dhabi.
• Infrastructure:- Abu Dhabi has got a very strong infrastructure to support its blooming MICE industry. It has got state of the art convention centers, hotels, airlines and logistic facilities. At the fore front of conducting business events in Abu Dhabi is the ADNEC (Abu Dhabi national exhibition center). Established in 2007 it has a total area of 73000 SQ Meter with sitting capacity of 6000 and additional standing capacity of 8000, it is the biggest convention center in UAE. In 2008 in conducted 73 (with 1.5 million visitors) events where as in 2009 it conducted 119 events (ADNEC website, 2010). Other than ADNEC hotels like Emirate palace and YAS hotel have built their own facilities to conduct business events. Emirates palace have auditorium and a ball room with a capacity of 1100 and 2400 respectively. (Rebecca B, 2009)
• Govt. authorities: - none of the business can take off in a nation until unless the govt. authorities are not serious enough. Fortunately one of the biggest strength of the MICE industry of Abu Dhabi is the extremely pro active govt. authorities. MICE activities are at the top of the Socio-Economic agenda of the govt. of UAE/ Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi tourism authority (ADTA) is investing hugely both in infrastructure as well as marketing to project Abu Dhabi as a world class tourist destination. Some of the major steps taken by ADTA are as follows: -
a) It came up with “ Advantage Abu Dhabi” campaign which is basically a venture capitalist kind of apparatus that provides financial as well as non financial support to various meeting planners and professional conference organizers( PCOs) in organizing meetings and business events in Abu Dhabi across 12 strategic sectors which include petrochemicals, aviation, education, transportation, logistic, media , financial services etc. (abudhabitourism website, 2009)
b) In 2007 in order to boost MICE business ADTA formed a MICE advisory committee which consisted of players from various related industries such as convention centers, hotels, tourism development and aviation etc. This industry advisory committee will provide a common platform for various players to communicate with each other and work for better infrastructure development, product development, bid opportunities etc. (ameinfo.com, 2009)
c) ADTA is taking strong initiatives to market Abu Dhabi across the world. Deals are signed with various countries, offices are opened across the globe and marketing campaigns are conducted at various parts of the world.
• Abu Dhabi is among the major petroleum producers of the world. This gives it a natural advantage in conducting meetings and events related to the petroleum industry. On the fore front of oil and gas exhibitions is Abu Dhabi international petroleum exhibition center (ADIPEC).
• Other than convention centers and hotels Abu Dhabi has a wide ranges of places to visit which includes state of the art malls, shopping centers of leading international fashion brands, golf courses, clubs, spas, restaurants, mosques etc.
• Clean environment, crime free society and a stable political system.
• Like its cousin state Dubai, Abu Dhabi is also very expensive. In the latest “Mercers costliest cities of the world list” it holds 50th position where as previous year it was having 26th position.
• Abu Dhabi lacks moderately priced economical accommodations. It has some of the best luxury hotels in the world but lacks 3star/ 4 star hotels often preferred by many business travelers. Though recently it is coming up with such decently priced accommodations such as the Aloft hotel at ADNEC, Holiday Inn, and other 3star/4star hotels on YAS islands. (Rebecca B, 2009)
• GIBTM: - GIBTM or Gulf incentive business travel and meeting exhibition is the part of five 5-star exhibitions conducted for the meeting industry across the globe by “Reed International Exhibition”. Conducted every year at ADNEC Abu Dhabi it provides a strong platform for the various buyers and sellers of MICE industry to interact with each other and discuss business. It helps in showcasing the strength of Abu Dhabi’s MICE industry to the whole world. Such events are bringing as well as will be bringing much more businesses in the nearby future.
• Abu Dhabi has made as well as making huge investments in various sorts of tourism such as sports tourism, leisure tourism and cultural tourism. It is building a cultural district with in the Sadiyat Island, which once completed will be the biggest cultural center in the world. Very recently it had successfully conducted the formula one grand prix. [According to one of the govt. official it had a plan to invest 230 Billion US dollars in tourism sector in the next five years. (guide2dubai.com, 2011) ]Hence it seems various alternate forms of tourism at Abu Dhabi have a very bright future. This will surely have a positive impact on the business tourism as well since various forms of tourism are interdependent on each other.
• Geo graphical location of Abu Dhabi that puts it at the cross road of various business centers of Europe, Asia and North Africa can be an advantage for the Emirate.
• It is assumed that oil reserves at Abu Dhabi will last for another 150 years ensuring free flow of capital needed for the industry.
• The MICE industry at Abu Dhabi will have to fight against stronger and well established players like London, Singapore etc.
• In Middle East region Abu Dhabi is still far behind of Dubai in attracting business travelers. Lot of new places in the region like Doha, Bahrain and Muscat etc are catching up very fast in developing their business tourism facility. These places can put some real challenge to Abu Dhabi.
• Since business tourism is a very lucrative business and it has got huge strategic significance ,many places across the globe are keeping it high on their socio-economic agendas. Places like Cape Town, Sanghai, Taipei, Beijing etc are emerging as strong destinations for business tourism.
• So far most of the talent required for the industry comes from the vast pools of expats. There is always a threat of these populations getting relocated to some other part of the globe. Though the chances are low but this might create some scarcity of talent. (Though recently Abu Dhabi has started taking this seriously and Emiratization of the work force is one of its prime agendums.)
1> HotelierMidddleEast.com, 2010, Gulf MICE industry has bright future, available at < http://www.hoteliermiddleeast.com/7655-gulf-mice-industry-has-bright-future/ >
2> HotelierMidddleEast.com, 2010, Gulf MICE industry has bright future, available at < http://www.hoteliermiddleeast.com/7655-gulf-mice-industry-has-bright-future/ >
3> ADNEC website, 2010, ADNEC to advance Abu Dhabi’s MICE development agenda at GIBTM 2010, available at < http://www.adnec.ae/press/viewPress.php?id=1269516895 >
4> Rebecca B, 2009, MICE industry takes off in Abu Dhabi, eTurboNews, available at < http://www.eturbonews.com/12842/mice-industry-takes-abu-dhabi >
5> Abu Dhabi tourism website, 2009, ADTA is to assume lead arranger role in an ambitious tourism initiative, available at < http://www.abudhabitourism.ae/en/news/advantage.abudhabi.to.super.mice.segment.aspx >
6> Ameinfo.com, 2009, ADTA forms MICE advisory panel, available at < http://www.ameinfo.com/126173.html >
7> Rebecca B, 2009, MICE industry takes off in Abu Dhabi, eTurboNews, available at < http://www.eturbonews.com/12842/mice-industry-takes-abu-dhabi >
8> Guide2dubai.com, 2011, Abu Dhabi plans a 230 Billion US dollar investment in tourism sector, available at < http://www.guide2dubai.com/808-Abu-Dhabi-plans-$230bn-investment-in-tourism-sector.html >