Saudi meetings industry forum to debut in Riyadh


RIYADH — The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been investing significantly in reinforcing its infrastructure transforming and developing the meetings industry within the country to welcome meetings and business events. It now has more than 500 first class hotels, convention and event facilities and nearly all leading international hotel groups have properties in the major cities.

The signs of national transformation of the Saudi meetings industry has been clearly seen first by establishing a Saudi Academy for event management in March 2017. Then by exhibiting for the first time at IMEX in Frankfurt in May 2017. A pavilion with many Saudi successful event organizing companies marketing their events facilities and services. After that, the announcement of Saudi Arabia membership in ICCA on January 2018. Not finally, a sign was perceived by hosting a Saudi Meetings Industry Convention (SMIC) in Riyadh on Feb. 18–20, 2018 where all investors and professionals of this industry gather, network, exchange knowledge and discuss how can they be global leaders.

Established in September 2013, the Saudi Exhibition and Convention Bureau was created with a mandate to boost the Saudi meetings industry. Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage (SCTH) and chairman of the Supervisory Committee of the Saudi Exhibition & Conference Bureau (SECB), has said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will become a global leader in the Meetings industry.

Eng.Tariq A. Al Essa, Executive Director of Saudi Exhibition and Convention Bureau (SECB) explained what the Bureau is doing and how it is making progress.

He said “Saudis are genetically passionate with meetings. Religion and culture emphasize people to meet and network. Interestingly, a study conducted by the Saudi Ministry of Labor revealed that Saudi graduate students selected "event manager" as one of the jobs they are keenest to do.”

“Saudi Arabia has a heritage in hosting meetings going back more than 2000 years. Our country has been staging one of the oldest meetings in the world, Okaz, originally an annual summit of Arab poets and a trade fair for Arab businesses; and of course we have 1438 years of experience in hosting the largest and most complex meeting in the planet - the 'Hajj’. In 2017 more than 1.7 million international delegates from 163 countries took part in this exceptional meeting.”

SECB and the Saudi meetings industry

“We are a self-founded government agency responsible for developing and promoting the meetings industry in Saudi Arabia. The government recognised the importance of the meetings industry and it approved a development strategy for the years 2014 – 2018. The strategy is based on (8) pillars that consist of (23) goals which include (90) initiatives.”

“The SECB aims to be a pioneer. Actually, it operates differently to other convention bureaux around the world. Our mandate is not only marketing; but also the development of the Saudi meetings industry and positioning it as a global leader.”