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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - DUBAI — The Arab Union for International Exhibitions and Conferences (AUIEC), which operates under the umbrella of the Council of Arab Economic Unity of the Arab League, has underlined the need for concerted efforts to step up the joint Arab action and to enhance means of Arab cooperation through forward-looking visions to lay out a sustainable Arab economy via the exhibitions and conferences industry.
This was stated during the virtual forum organized on Tuesday by AUIEC under the sponsorship of the Council of Arab Economic Unity. Headed by Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, chairman of the Board of the Arab Union for International Exhibitions and Conferences and the CEO of Expo Centre Sharjah, the forum was held under the name “Arab Exhibitions and Conferences Industry in light of COVID-19” and moderated by Mahmoud Youssef Al-Jarrah, secretary-general, AUIEC, in the presence of Ambassador Mohamed Al Rabie, secretary-general, Arab Economic Unity Council, and the participation of representatives of 10 member states in the Union.
Strengthening digital infrastructure
The forum touched on key challenges faced by the exhibitions and conferences industry in the Arab world amid COVID-19, where the attendees recommended the need to enhance the role of AUIEC as an incubator for all initiatives and the importance of achieving integration in the exhibitions industry between Arab states to boost the competitiveness of each country, as well as the necessity of providing government support programs for the exhibitions and conferences sector, the need to organize exhibitions at the local level with the implementation of all precautionary measures to ensure health and safety of everyone, and the importance of promoting domestic exhibitions as the first stage of recovery.
Commending the organization of this forum, Ambassador Al Rabie shed light on the strategic objectives of AUIEC and its contribution to developing economic cooperation and boosting trade exchange between Arab countries.
He explained that the Arab Union for International Exhibitions and Conferences is keen on developing the exhibitions and conferences industry, encouraging and supporting cooperation among those working in this sector, and facilitating the exchange of views and information.
A joint work system
Al Midfa stressed the need to step up efforts to create a common work system serving as a major incubator for the exhibition and conference industry sector in the Arab world in light of this global crisis.
Al Midfa highlighted the key role of the exhibitions and conferences industry in stimulating business tourism, the travel and aviation sector, consumer spending, retail trade, and the support and logistics sector.
“The exhibitions and conferences help create 3.2 million direct and indirect jobs around the world, while the spending of visitors and exhibitors in exhibitions annually is about 137 billion USD. And the number of exhibitors annually in exhibitions around the world reached 4.5 million companies, while the number of visitors to exhibitions annually are amounted to 303 million people,” he said.
Al-Jarrah said: “This forum aims to discuss the future of the exhibitions and conferences sector which is one of the most important sectors supportive of the economic recovery locally, regionally, and globally from the consequences of COVID-19. We also aspire to come up with solutions, proposals, consolidated decision, and forward-looking vision to overcome the current challenges and ensure the sustainability of this industry.”
The attendees agreed to develop an Arab strategy that combines efforts and promotes joint work to get out of this challenge. They also called for strengthening the digital infrastructure in the Arab countries and adopting virtual events as one of the forms of exhibitions in the future, while emphasizing that virtual events will not replace physical ones in the long term.
In addition, the participants affirmed the need to activate and enhance mergers and partnerships between the organizers of exhibitions in the Arab world, as well as to create work system that represents a road map for the next stage, and to encourage exhibition organizers to join international organizations and bodies to benefit from their expertise and experiences. — SG
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