Future of meetings



The opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi last November was a high point in the calendar for Abu Dhabi. The museum, built in collaboration with the French government, was the first of its kind in the Arab world and instantly became an iconic landmark on the city's geographical, cultural and tourist landscape.

While its opening was, quite rightly, celebrated for highlighting cultural exchange and diversity, you could say Abu Dhabi was already doing a pretty good job of attracting outsiders before the arrival of a prestigious art museum.

According to figures released by the Department of Culture and Tourism, a record 4.875 million people stayed in the city's 162 hotels and hotel apartments in 2017, an almost 10% rise on the previous year.

Travellers visit Abu Dhabi for a multitude of reasons, but the region's exhibition centres, unusual venues and wide selection of hotels, not to mention its exciting events diary, are a certainly a major draw for event organisers.


When it comes to exhibition centres, Abu Dhabi's are world-class and can cater for all purposes of conferences, events and meetings. 

Situated squarely in the centre of Abu Dhabi's business sector is Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), which is an ideal choice for large meetings and conferences. Indeed, it hosted the world's largest vocational skills competition – WorldSkills – last year, attracting 100,000 participants and spectators over three days. 

The centre, easily accessible from Abu Dhabi Airport, includes the International Convention Centre with flexible seating for up to 6,000 delegates, 12 dedicated exhibition halls and two conference halls. It also boasts two on-site hotels and a further 4,000 hotel rooms within a 10-minute drive.

Its second largest centre – Al Ain Convention Centre – is a 60-minute drive from Abu Dhabi Airport and just 10 minutes from Al Ain International Airport, boasting two large event halls, an auditorium and marquee-style outdoor areas.


If you're contemplating holding a smaller meeting or event with no less of an impact, you could opt to hold it at one of Abu Dhabi's 'venues with a difference' such as Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Desert Islands Conference Centre, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuit or Saadiyat Beach Club.

"In Abu Dhabi you not only have indoor venues to choose from but private islands, desert retreats and even the garages on the pit lane at Yas Marina Circuit," says Angela Bates, Trade/MICE promotion senior executive at Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau who highlights the benefits of combining Abu Dhabi's natural attributes with its constructed events spaces. 

"Getting outside, enjoying the fresh air and incorporating elements of nature into your event can give your brain a boost, resulting in increased productivity, focus and creativity," she adds.

Travis Simmons, business development manager at Yas Marina Circuit, who will exhibit at this year's Meetings Show, gives further details about the creative and traditional meeting and event spaces on offer at 'the home of the most exciting F1 race of the season'.

"Yas Conference Centre is the venue hub and is at the heart of a setting like no other where everything from meetings by the famous F1 track to gala dinners under the stars is an option. Creativity and a commitment to events that are truly unique are delivered through a dedicated event planning team that is on hand to offer event planning advice, recommend venue and hotel options and arrange competitive quotations.

"Yas Conference Centre is driven by its motto of, 'Business, just not as usual', no matter if hosting trackside team-building days, large-scale conferences or VIP dinners, we ensure a creative and memorable event."




Abu Dhabi means 'Land of the Gazelle' in Arabic. The name was given to the city after a wandering tribe was led to fresh water on a simple island settlement by a young antelope.


The city has been the backdrop to some major films, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Fast & Furious 7.



Abu Dhabi is home to the world's largest caravan. The five-storey holiday home was built in 1990 and has eight bedrooms and four garages.


Abu Dhabi's exhibition centres are already a popular choice for all manner of events and festivals, which in turn strengthens the location's appeal for future bookings, believes Bates.

"Abu Dhabi is already home to more than 800 events including spectacles such as the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Grand Prix, the Abu Dhabi Food Festival, Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and the Abu Dhabi Classics international concert season, affording travelling delegates the opportunity to extend their stay and enjoy the destination pre- or post-event, book tickets to such events or partake in such activities during down time in their event itinerary," she says.

There are a 'huge array' of experiences available for delegates to enjoy before or after meetings, according to Bates. 

"For example, a round of golf on any of our three Championship golf courses can be organised for the early morning or even after dusk to work around your event.

"Adrenalin junkies can take to the water on a speed boat, go dune bashing or take on the fastest roller-coaster in the world at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. Or perhaps head to the malls for some shopping and dine out at an array of wonderful restaurants with jaw-dropping views over the skyline. Alternatively, escape the city on a desert safari where guests can dine out under the stars, learn more about Emirati traditions such as falconry and even ride a camel."


Thanks to the plethora of three, four and five-star hotels on offer in Abu Dhabi, finding a place to stay for any trip is a relatively easy task, and should only get easier as new developments open, says Bates.

"Abu Dhabi is continually enhancing opportunities and increasing inventory stock to include a wide range of star rated properties," she says, noting the arrival of three on Saadiyat Island:  Saadiyat Rotana Resort, Jumeirah Saadiyat Island and Rixos Saadiyat.

"These hotels are part of Saadiyat Island’s master-plan project which intends to develop Saadiyat as a self-contained island with all of the elements of a major city centre," she adds.

Other new openings include the Abu Dhabi EDITION Hotel situated by Al Bateen Marina; the Fairmont Marina Resort & Residences with 563 rooms located on the Abu Dhabi Breakwater; and Pearl Rotana Capital Centre, conveniently located just a few steps from Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) and 20 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport, offering 315 rooms and suites, seven fully equipped meeting rooms, five specialty food and beverage venues and a state-of-the-art fitness centre.

Existing stock is plentiful and in all of Abu Dhabi's key locations. If you require something central, consider Southern Sun and Le Royal Meridien in Abu Dhabi city centre or Aloft Abu Dhabi, Hyatt Capital Gate or Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi (an exhibitor at this year's Meetings Show) which are close to ADNEC.

Fancy venturing out to the quiet of one of Abu Dhabi's islands? Check out Saadiyat Rotana Resort or St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort on Saadiyat Island, or Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi Yas Island or Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi on Yas Island.


For those wanting to eat out after meetings, or to continue the conversation with clients or business colleagues post-conference, Abu Dhabi offers some stunning settings in which to do so.

Restaurants at height are an Abu Dhabi specialty, serving up stunning views across the city while you eat your meal. One such restaurant is Ray's Grill, situated on the 62nd floor Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, where large steaks sourced from cattle in Australia, Ireland and the USA are served up against a backdrop of Abu Dhabi and the Arabian Gulf.

If height isn't your thing, but quirky is, head to 18 Degrees at Hyatt Capital Gate. The restaurant, which specialises in Mediterranean dishes, holds the Guinness World Record for the building's 18 degree incline. Inside, it features three show kitchens with interactive counters, adding to the sense of theatre for guests and providing an extra talking-point should your dinner need one.

Local Emirati cuisine can be sampled at Mezlai at Emirates Palace where camel, za'atar and dates appear on the menu and the décor is based on a Bedouin tent, or for familiar names, head to Hakkasan, also at Emirates Palace, Coya Abu Dhabi at The Galleria on Al Maryah Island and Asia de Cuba at Nation Riviera Beach Club at the Corniche.


While it's clear that Abu Dhabi already has much to offer MICE guests, those in charge of bringing business travellers and tourists to this capital city and its surrounding areas have no desire to rest on their laurels when it comes to boosting the area's appeal.

"The Advantage Events Abu Dhabi Initiative has recently launched to encourage greater private sector involvement to increase the number of emirate-wide events and festivals," explains Bates. "Initial funding set aside for successful applications is AED 10 million, with further tranches being made available as the multi-phase scheme evolves and progresses. The new incentive grant is open to all entities involved in the retail and events industry, venues and IPR owners."

And HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, director general, Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, hopes to see visitor numbers break more records in the forthcoming years.

 “Combined with our ongoing international marketing and promotional activities and our excellent collaboration with strategic partners, including our national airline Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi Ports, we will continue to evolve and lead Abu Dhabi’s tourism proposition to achieve new levels of excellence; implementing new initiatives and working closely with the private sector, while striving to achieve new record numbers of hotel guests," he says.

Don't forget to come and visit us at The Meetings Show on stand B400. 


More than 52 airlines fly into and out of Abu Dhabi International Airport from 85 cities in 49 countries.

Flights leave the UK from airports in London (three flights a day), Manchester (two flights a day) and Edinburgh (five flights a week). The flight time from the UK is approximately seven hours.

Abu Dhabi International Airport is well-connected to the rest of the emirates by a number of bus services, and taxis, which are reasonably priced and can be flagged down at the roadside or booked in advance.