How is the events and exhibitions sector taking shape in Saudi Arabia?
While well established, the Saudi event market is going through some evolutionary changes at the moment. It is clear that international organisers aware of the market’s potential have sought to establish themselves, but their success has been varied. While the future looks strong thanks to market fundamentals, to really make headway international events will have to work harder to localise their offer to suit the nuances of the Saudi Arabian visitor.
Naturally government policy and legislation is playing a part in helping the sector develop. The National Transformation Program announced earlier this year points to plans to diversify the economy, build non-oil revenue in areas such as tourism and mining, and focus on developing other industries. As these transformation s take effect they will undoubtedly provide further MICE opportunities in the future.
What events are being organised by dmg events in Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia sees two of our biggest and most established brands present exhibitions in the local market. The Big 5 Saudi is a carefully geo-adapted edition of our flagship construction exhibition, which we are exporting from the UAE to key locations around the MENA region. We also produce a geo-adapted edition of our core hospitality brand the Hotel Show KSA. Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries we chose to take our events to, simply because of the massive market potential. But we have also created exhibitions specific to the Saudi Arabian market, with the HVAC-R Expo Saudi event launched this year being a great example of how we’ve used our core content expertise to create something unique for the local market.
Is dmg events planning to launch new events in Saudi Arabia or geo-adapt its existing exhibitions?
We see a strong future in Saudi Arabia, not just for our existing brands but also for other non-core areas. For us one of the keys is understanding Saudi Arabia as a local market with its own demands and requirements. We believe simply cloning events doesn’t work, they need to be adapted. With the help of our partners we will look to build on our market knowledge and relationships and expand our operations and interests in the Kingdom over the coming years. As with all our territories we are there for the long term and recognise that some markets, such as Saudi Arabia, take longer to build. Undoubtedly we will lean on the experience and strengths of our existing brands, but you can expect to see some new offerings as well.
Do exhibitors and visitors in Saudi Arabia respond well to the new technologies being deployed at dmg events exhibitions?
Yes they do. Recent research has given us great insight to how Saudi Arabians use mobile technology and we have to make sure our offers align with their preferences. Google’s Saudi Arabia connected consumer survey revealed that the average Saudi consumer now owns 2.3 connected devices, with 86 per cent of the country’s connected consumers going online daily. As well as this massive number of connected people its also clear that Saudi Arabians consume a huge amount of video online. We’re making it easier to interact with show features through our mobile apps and we’ll keep looking for new ways to cater to the specific demands of Saudi Arabian smart phone and social media usage.
Recently it was forecast that the Kingdom’s tourist numbers are expected to increase 43 per cent by 2020. How do you see this benefitting the MICE Industry?
For us and our core sectors this can only be good news. The Big 5 construction event and the Hotel Show are perfectly positioned to serve the demands of the infrastructure required by the growing hospitality and tourism markets. For the MICE industry as a whole it is also great news. This growing tourism market showcases the Kingdom to a broader international audience. With the larger numbers, facilities will develop with new venues and MICE solutions being offered. Tourism is the key to many favoured MICE destinations around the world, so these projected numbers in Saudi Arabia can only be a positive indicator for the industry.
Lastly, why is Saudi Arabia important as a region to dmg events?
Dmg events is one of the largest and most successful event organisers in the region. While Dubai operates as a regional hub for us, drawing a global audience, increasingly we are taking our events further afield to connect buyers and sellers in local and national markets. These more focused events can help us deliver targeted audiences and tailor content to those specific markets. With this as a goal, Saudi Arabia and it’s 30 million-plus population and a GDP of more than $650bn is by far the largest market in region and yet still has a relatively ‘domestic' events industry. Our model of bringing together our global network to meet local buyers is perfectly suited to this growing and developing marketplace. We feel our events can bring valuable showcases to their respective industries