Last year, Dubai solidified its position as a major hub for international business events, securing an unprecedented 349 bids to host international conferences, congresses, meetings, and incentive travel programmes. Driven by Dubai Business Events (DBE), the city’s official convention bureau, the wins reflected a robust 49 per cent increase in successful bids compared to 2022. The events secured in 2023 are set to attract over 191,000 international delegates.
Under its business events and delegate boosting strategy, DBE brought an impressive citywide offering to the global market that resonated with the core needs of the business events industry. Positioning Dubai as a prominent destination for international business events and increasing appetite among associations and corporations to conduct meetings in the city, DBE worked closely with stakeholders across the public and private sectors to convert inquiries to confirmed events. While some of these events have already taken place in 2023, others are confirmed for coming years, joining wins from previous years, with Dubai’s strong appeal driving a pipeline of impactful events as far ahead as 2029.
Bidding activity and success have continued to accelerate after the global Covid-19 pandemic, with the number of bid wins in 2023 exceeding the previous record of 295 bids registered in 2019. The events secured for the city will be vital in driving trade, investment, and attracting global talent, aligning with the goals of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33. Furthermore, business events also create new advocates for the city, enhancing Dubai’s appeal as a premier destination for business events.
Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, said: “Driven by the leadership and vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the city’s business events ecosystem continues to play a vital role in wider tourism and economic development, in line with the priorities of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33.
“Business events have consistently proved to be an important catalyst for the city’s development, driving knowledge growth and contributing to the evolution of key sectors and industries. Dubai’s success in securing major international conferences, congresses, meetings and incentives in 2023 was a reward for the robust efforts of all stakeholders across the public and private sectors. The events captured and taking place over the coming years will bring business leaders, innovators and changemakers together in Dubai, with the whole city and emirate benefitting from our fast-growing knowledge economy, further contributing to our collective momentum.
“To keep the momentum going, we have charted ambitious plans for the year ahead and are working closely with all stakeholders, from hotels and event organisers to attractions and venues, to attract the biggest and most prestigious events and congresses to the city and raise the profile of Dubai as a year-round global business events destination. Throughout 2024, the DBE team and partners will engage with meetings professionals and potential clients around the world, further elevating the city’s positioning and competitiveness.”
Among the notable successful bids in 2023 key association events include Critical Communications World 2024 with 3,800 delegates, the WCA Worldwide Annual Conference 2024, with 4,500 delegates, the International Trademark Association’s Annual Meeting 2026, with 10,000 delegates, and the Million Dollar Round Table Global Conference 2024, with 10,000 delegates. This is in addition to an impressive line-up of corporate and incentive events coming to the city, including TOKEN2049 and Nuskin Elite, both taking place this year with 4,000 and 1,000 delegates, respectively, as well as Amway ESAN 2025, which is expected to bring 3,500 visitors to Dubai.
DBE partnered with hotels, venues, professional congress organisers (PCOs), destination management companies (DMCs) and other service providers across the city to secure these wins, also collaborating with local associations, businesses and other entities to develop comprehensive proposals to showcase Dubai’s capabilities as a business events destination. As a result of DBE’s continuous efforts to drive the business events sector, Dubai was voted the top meeting and MICE destination in the Middle East by Cvent for 2023. Dubai was also named the Middle East’s Leading Meetings & Conference Destination 2023 at the World Travel Awards.
In addition to working with various service providers, DBE leveraged its role as one of the co-founders of the Dubai Association Centre (DAC) to support its mission to build relationships with international associations and attract them to Dubai, with 60 per cent of delegates set to come to Dubai as a result of bid wins visiting for association conferences and congresses. Additionally, DBE’s Al Safeer Congress Ambassador Programme played a critical role in identifying and supporting local UAE-based key opinion leaders and government representatives, including doctors, scientists, professors, teachers, government officials and businesspersons, in attracting international business events to Dubai in 2023.
DBE has already started its year-round calendar of industry engagements with sales missions in target markets and participation in major trade shows, including Imex Frankfurt, Imex America and IBTM World. DBE is also working closely with industry stakeholders to host meeting planners in Dubai for a series of study missions that will allow them to experience Dubai’s business events, tourism infrastructure, and rapidly growing knowledge economy firsthand.