April 20, 2024
Saudi Arabia Meetings Incentives Conferences and Exhibitions

Saudi Arabia Emerging as a Force in the Global MICE Industry

The meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry in Saudi Arabia has witnessed significant growth in recent years and is emerging as a prominent player in the global MICE landscape. With massive investments and ambitious plans, the Kingdom aims to position itself as a leading MICE destination in the Middle East and globally.

Background and Growth of MICE Industry in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi tourism sector has undergone rapid transformation in the last few years, driven by the country’s Vision 2030 goals. With dependence on oil revenues decreasing, the government is focusing on diversifying the economy and boosting non-oil sectors like tourism. The General Authority for Entertainment was set up in 2016 to develop the tourism sector. Massive infrastructure projects targeting venues, hotels, and attractions were initiated across the country.

The Saudi Arabia Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry in particular has received substantial support. Major convention centers, exhibition halls, and business hotels have come up in key cities. Existing venues also expanded their capacities. These developments have enabled Saudi Arabia to host some of the largest conferences, exhibitions, and corporate events in the region. The number of international and domestic MICE events held in the Kingdom has grown significantly in recent years.

Current Market Scenario and Potential

Currently, Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam are the major MICE hubs in Saudi Arabia. State-of-the-art venues like the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, Jeddah Center for Forums and Events, and Dhahran Expo Center host global exhibitions and conventions annually. Top international associations have included Saudi Arabia in their global touring schedules as well.

The Kingdom has also emerged as one of the largest exhibition markets in the Middle East, with around 30 exhibitions held annually attracting thousands of exhibitors and visitors. Key events include Intersec, GITEX Technology Week, Saudi Agri, and Saudi Build.

Industry experts forecast the Saudi MICE sector will be worth over $5 billion by 2030 as the country aims to attract over 100 million visitors per year. The untapped domestic market itself presents significant potential as businesses increasingly use MICE for client engagement, training, and networking. Religious tourism will also boost the industry as Umrah and Hajj pilgrims look for pre-post tour packages.

Incentives to Boost Saudi Arabia’s Appeal as a MICE Destination

To promote Saudi Arabia globally as a premier MICE destination, the government and local industry associations offer attractive incentives and support. Subsidies are provided to bring international associations and organizers to host events in the country. Significant financial assistance is also given to local SMEs and corporates to participate in global exhibitions and source buyers/partners.

Visa policies have also liberalized, with e-visas and on-arrival visas issued. Multiple entry visas are provided for delegates of recurring events. Associations can get blocks of visas approved in advance for their members. The infrastructure upgrades extend to airports with new terminals enhancing connectivity.

Sustainability and Local Community Development Initiatives

Saudi Vision 2030 lays emphasis on empowering communities and indigenous populations through sustainable tourism models. In line with this, the MICE industry adoption of sustainability practices is being encouraged.

Event organizers and venues are setting ESG targets to minimize environmental impact. Solar power, recycling, sustainable sourcing, and community outreach projects are becoming norms. Local communities are also being trained to leverage MICE through cultural experiences, culinary tours, handicraft stalls at exhibitions and more. This promotes social mobility and cultural exchange between event delegates and local populations.

With the ongoing momentum, the Saudi MICE sector is well on its way to realizing the ambitious vision of becoming a global meetings powerhouse. Rapid destination development combined with strategic incentive initiatives are empowering both international and domestic stakeholders. As sustainability frameworks cement, local communities and culture will also directly gain from this burgeoning industry. Overall, the transformational progress signals an exciting future for Saudi Arabia as a predominant force in the worldwide MICE landscape.

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1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it