The Doha Exhibition and Convention Center (DECC) has been open for a year and a half now. Some prestigious event organisers have been brought on board. Others are expected to follow.
The DECC was built with the aim of promoting Qatar and encouraging business activity. It also has an important role to play in realising the state’s ambitions to become a leading MICE destination. The decision-makers are hoping this new venue will attract increasing numbers of leading event organisers. The contemporary design and architecture of the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center are certainly helpful in that respect. “We now have a state-of-the-art facility featuring the very latest technologies,” emphasises CEO Jose Vicente. The DECC – located in the heart of Doha – only opened in November 2015, so it is one of the most modern exhibition and convention centres in the Middle East. That is undoubtedly a competitive advantage, although the decision-makers don’t regard the other market players as competitors, pointing out that this is a region that is growing rapidly and there is room for all of them. “Each increase in space represents added value and provides international organisers with additional options,” says Vicente.
When it comes to attracting trade fairs, conventions and events, the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center targets certain key sectors: energy, infrastructure and smart cities, transport, education, human resources management, hospitality, food and retailing. “Much of this comes from Qatar’s national vision for 2030,” explains Jose Vicente. “This plan was conceived with the aim of transforming the country through sustainable economic development.” DECC Management has no plans to organise their own events. “The main priority are events that serve local and regional markets,” emphasises Vicente. They include international trade fairs as well as conventions with accompanying exhibitions, consumer shows, company events, festivals, live shows and sports events.
Some high-profile exhibition organizers have already used the DECC. For example, the leading French organiser Comexposium launched an offshoot of its Milipol homeland security trade fair. IFP is organising the Project Qatar construction fair and a hospitality fair as well. And Informa is staging the real estate fair Cityscape Qatar. These industry get-togethers should benefit from the global event taking place here five years from now: the 2022 FIFA World Cup. “The government is investing around 150 billion euros over the next decade in infrastructure development” reports Vicente. The hotel industry is also booming. 41 new hotels with a total of almost 12,000 rooms are being built in Doha alone. Interior decoration and design will benefit hugely from that. DMG Events has just opened an office in Doha and is organising Index Qatar, a fair focusing on this segment, at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center in November. In addition, local organisers are staging Green Expo, an event focusing on renewable energy and sustainability.
First-class infrastructure is undoubtedly necessary in order to do well in the trade fair and convention industry. And Doha is certainly easy for international exhibitors and visitors to get to. Qatar Airways connects the state with over 150 destinations around the world. And even without the investments in hotels described above, there is already plenty of absolutely top-quality accommodation. “We work very closely with our hospitality partners,” explains Vicente. “These include the Qatar Tourism Authority, which is making huge efforts to develop the MICE industry and promote Qatar as a business destination.” It helps greatly that the state’s thriving economy is one of the strongest in the Gulf region and is also diversifying. That reduces its dependency on oil and gas.
The decision-makers at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center mention further factors that count in Qatar’s favour. “We have a cosmopolitan population with a very high level of education,” argues Vicente. That makes for a culture in which event participants can be sure of a warm welcome. The state’s economic strength undoubtedly also plays a decisive role. The wealthier trade fair visitors are, the more products exhibitors can sell, and Qatar has the world’s highest GDP per capita. Moreover, the outstanding leisure opportunities available – local and international cuisine, traditional bazaars, unforgettable desert safaris as well as many sporting opportunities – make a visit to Qatar a fantastic experience for guests from all over the world. In short, all the ingredients for successful trade fairs and conventions are in place. All that’s needed is for domestic and international organisers to come up with the events (www.decc.qa).
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