Kingdom’s Vision 2030 treasure for the meeting industry in Saudi Arabia


Saudi Gazette

RIYADH — The Kingdom has witnessed big improvements in the meetings industry, compared to previous years. It is an undeniable fact the role the Kingdom plays not only in the region but in the world politically, economically, technologically and on the humanitarian level require strong meetings industry that can go in line with the Vision 2030 and with the fast paced steps taken in all sectors. Meeting industry goes in line with the elevation of the community, due to the increase demand on exchange talks, benefits, plan and execution of development plans. The high potential for the meeting industry, possibilities, challenges, and sustainability were deeply discussed in the Saudi Meetings Industry Convention (SMIC), under the patronage of Prince Sultan Bin Salman, President and Chairman of the Board of the Saudi Commission and National Heritage and Head of the Supervision Committee of the Saudi Exhibition & Convention Bureau (SECB). The event which took place in Intercontinental Riyadh from Feb18-20 under the slogan “Saudi Arabia is Welcomes Your Meetings” attracted international speakers and CEOs of global meeting associations and world leading event management companies in addition to local expertise to discuss the future of the vital industry in the Kingdom, in this regard, Saudi Gazette met with Eng. Tariq A. Al Essa, Executive Manager of the Saudi Exhibition & Convention Bureau.

“Since the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 was announced, initiatives from all sectors from both public and private sectors which allowed the meeting industry to shine and greatly develop to go cover the demand in a highly professional way that can well reflect the image of the Kingdom domestically and globally,” he said.

“Kingdom’s Vision 2030 is a treasure for the meeting industry in the Kingdom. There are more than 500 initiatives, surly these initiatives need business events for discussion, planning and execution, such as localizing medicine sector, to do that there will be demand on conferences for expertise in the sector and exchange latest scientific research and talk about best practices in the world,” he added.

There are so many strengthens in the industry, “the biggest strength is that there is now an organization which is (SECB). We takes care of that industry as a whole which in all aspects such as: research, standards, marketing, licensing,.etc . Licensing for events is being more clear and transparent, regulations are also crystal- clear in the website and extremely being simplified. There is one online stop platform if you want to make an exhibition, meeting, forum, conference or workshop. The investor or the organizer can take the license online as well. What we do exactly is that we communicate with different governmental entities in concern on behalf of the investor and organizer,” he commented.

Al Essa emphasized that visas’ process are being simplified like never before. “There is a clear cooperation between us and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in terms of visas. If the investor or the event management company is licensed to get conference or an exhibition, and there are exhibitors or speakers coming to the Kingdom. They just apply to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, then they inform us about the visa reference number. We have an access to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, we approve them and the visas will be delivered to Embassies; and collected within three business days. Visas are available for visitors, they can come. However, we are stressing the importance of improving the systems of events management companies to have icon or window on their website while promoting their events overseas to see who is interested and then invite them.

In terms of education and training existing people in the industry or new comers, Al Essa said that SECB created an Academy in partnership with the private sector, to educate, train and provide Saudi youth whether investors or working in the field to professionally understand it. “This will definitely raise the competency and competitiveness in the market. We also have serious talks with 18 universities to create different levels of educational programs on event management ranging from postgraduate studies, bachelors, and diplomas. Four universities are very willing to implement these initiatives very soon.”

There are many steps taken to enhance all visitors’ experience in the Kingdom, “We have also strong cooperation with Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, and General Authority for Entertainment. We helped to link event management companies and tour operators to together.”

He emphasized that SECB is collaborating working with the Ministry of Haj to provide Muslim speakers and exhibitors with packages. So they can perform Haj or Umra after they finish their conference or meeting.

“The market is ready to have more international investors. The potential is really high for international key players in the industry. Moreover, the potential is also high suppliers for the industry, such as media, translation, etc,” he concluded.