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89th UFI Global Congress begins in Muscat


November brings two major international events to the Arabian Peninsula. The UFI Global Congress is taking place in the Sultanate of Oman shortly before the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Qatar.

International trade fair organisers and venue operators are coming together for their 89th annual congress from 14 to 17 November. The UFI (Global Association of the Exhibition Industry) is thus returning to the region for its flagship event a decade after the UFI Global Congress in Abu Dhabi. “In the Middle East and Oman, in particular, there has been considerable investment in and commitment to the development of a first-rate infrastructure for business events,” argues Kai Hattendorf, the UFI’s managing director. “Our sector is welcomed as an engine of growth.” The numbers registering for the event have been very promising, as Hattendorf points out. Over 500 delegates from more than 50 countries and regions are expected in Muscat. It shows that industry experts are keen to meet each other face to face again and see what Oman has to offer, he believes.

The UFI Global Congress is traditionally synonymous with intensive international networking opportunities. The programme has also repeatedly featured well-known, visionary and pioneering thinkers. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, a two-time Oscar winner who has also won recognition as the director of the critically acclaimed Marvel Studios series Ms. Marvel, is delivering the keynote address this year. Right at the beginning of the programme, she will be sharing new ways of looking at the world and taking delegates on an audio-visual journey to “uncover the unseen”. The former broadcast journalist Eithne Treanor will be guiding delegates through the programme, which will cover topics such as the state of the economy, global risks and opportunities and trends in the industry. Transformational issues such as the sustainability agenda in the trade fair industry will also be featuring.

The get-together at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre will be taking place against the background of a brightening mood in the industry. The UFI recently published the results of its latest Global Exhibition Barometer survey. These reveal how the industry’s recovery from the Covid crisis has accelerated in 2022 and how it is now quickly regaining its old strength. Revenues in the first half of 2023 are expected to reach 87 percent of those for the same period in 2019. Around six out of ten companies reported “normal levels of activity” compared to only three out of ten six months previously. 70 percent expected to be operating at normal levels of activity by the end of the year. Important factors contributing to this positive trend include the lifting of travel restrictions and the readiness of exhibitors and trade fair visitors to participate again. Staffing issues and digitalisation are seen as the big challenges. The full Global Exhibition Barometer report contains profiles for 28 different markets and regions (www.ufi.org).


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