The Middle East region’s leading venue hosted 301 exhibitions and events in 2023, an increase of 23 per cent over the previous year. The exhibitions attracted nearly 54,000 companies, 78 per cent of which were international. Last year, the World Trade Centre welcomed 2.5 million visitors in 2023.

Dubai World Trade Centre added 33 new events to its calendar, attracting almost 95,000 participants. Its flagship shows, led by Gitex Global and Gulfood, saw a 42 per cent growth in attendees and contributed to one-third of all meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions attendees. The DWTC-owned Dubai Exhibition Centre, DEC, at Expo City Dubai hosted over 220,000 participants, headlined by the prestigious Blue Zone at COP28.

“Dubai and DWTC have established leadership in the business events industry. Our work is shaped by the government’s visionary Economic Agenda, D33, which sets ambitious economic goals for the city. We’re working to further cement Dubai’s status as a global business events hub and preferred destination for doing business,” says Mahir Abdulkarim Julfar, Executive Vice President of Dubai World Trade Centre.

Exhibitions, 107 fairs, international congresses, and industry conferences led the way. These events together attracted almost 1.6 million participants, representing a significant increase of 33 per cent compared to the previous year. Of these, over 722,000 were international attendees, representing a 60 per cent growth compared to last year. These industry-leading events and fairs were attended by 53,789 exhibiting companies, an increase of 45 per cent from the previous year. A complete 78 per cent of exhibiting companies were international (41,864). The sharp increase in international business participants supports the ambitions of Dubai’s Economic Agenda, which calls for Dubai to be one of the top three global economic cities by 2033.

The diversity of DWTC’s events calendar is further enhanced by the consumer and leisure events portfolio, which grew last year to 35 entertainment, live, and leisure events that attracted over 850,000 visitors.

Dubai World Trade Centre grew its presence globally as well, with its wholly owned events company Kaoun International organising events internationally, including the debut editions of GITEX Africa, the largest tech and startup show in Africa, attracting attendees from 128 countries, including representatives from 46 African nations; and the Saudi Food Show 2023 the largest and most global F&B showcase in Saudi Arabia. DXB Live, DWTC’s experiential agency, recorded its best year to date at over 500 events, locally and internationally. The agency doubled its business in 2023 and expanded its services to new markets, including Europe, the USA, Asia, and the Middle East. DWTC also owns and operates the Dubai Exhibition Centre, DEC, at Expo City, which hosted several events last year, including the COP28 climate conference.

“Our state-of-the-art venue, Dubai Exhibition Centre, was constructed for the international mega-event Expo 2020, and we are now building on that legacy by hosting significant national and international events at DEC. The venue encompasses an expansive area of 58,000 square metres, providing an impressive new event space in Dubai,” says Mahir Abdulkarim Julfar.

Situated in Expo City Dubai, with an on-site Metro station, the Dubai Exhibition Centre is only 20 minutes from Al Maktoum International Airport. Adjacent to DEC are Expo Village Residences, which are also owned and managed by DWTC. The residences consist of 2,273 apartments offering a wide range of furnished and unfurnished options for short- and long-term stays and offering spacious and open-plan layouts. They are within walking distance of Expo City Dubai’s main attractions and are surrounded by Expo Park’s 37,000 square metres of lush greenery.

“We’re working to further cement Dubai’s status as a global business events hub”

“DEC was selected as the venue to host COP28 last year. We were proud to play a role in the UAE’s hosting of COP and to be a part of the climate conference’s success. We plan to expand some existing events to the Dubai Exhibition Centre at Expo City Dubai. This strategic move will accommodate the remarkable growth of the existing and new events organised in Dubai for the first time,” says Mahir Abdulkarim Julfar.

The Dubai World Trade Centre is also deeply committed to sustainability. DWTC serves as a global hub, bringing together individuals worldwide to participate in world-class events that promote innovation and progress.

“We value and recognise the importance of our events’ social connections and cultural exchanges. Our commitment to sustainability aims to preserve these special experiences by hosting events that are not only socially effective but also environmentally responsible.”

As the business events industry continues to grow, it is increasingly essential for organisations like DWTC to spearhead initiatives to create a greener and more sustainable future.

DWTC’s sustainability goals rest on three pillars: first, to align with the visions and strategies outlined by local and federal governments. Second, to set the standard for sustainability in the global business events industry and lead by example. Third, businesses should actively support environmental goals to meet public expectations. Pillars form the basis for viable initiatives that include reducing energy consumption, conserving essential resources and minimising waste in various dimensions of DWTC’s operations.

“Our commitment to sustainability has been recognised through our certification by the Green Globe, a leading international standard for sustainable travel and tourism. Sustainability means balancing economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental responsibility. The Dubai government’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UAE’s Net Zero 2050 strategy, as well as initiatives such as the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, the Smart Dubai Initiative, the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 and the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, offer many opportunities for businesses and industries to align themselves with sustainable endeavours. We believe that a sustainable business model not only protects the future of our planet but also creates lasting value for our stakeholders.”

The Dubai World Trade Centre has facilitated global business since 1979 and is home to the region’s leading purpose-built convention and exhibition centre. The venue offers a platform to unite people, products, innovation and ideas worldwide through a dynamic calendar of international trade exhibitions and its roster of industry-leading mega-events. As a free zone complemented by award-winning commercial properties, DWTC plays an essential role in the growth story of Dubai and the region. Since its opening, the centre has hosted over 6,000 events, with an estimated economic output of AED 248 billion (EUR65 billion/USD68 billion) and attracted over 38 million business event visitors to Dubai.