UAE, UAE, ABU DHABI - Tourism
Group CEO, Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC)
Humaid Al Dhaheri has contributed to the advancement of the business tourism sector in Abu Dhabi for the past 18 years. Currently the Group CEO of ADNEC, he has been with the company since its establishment in 2005. Al Dhaheri also occupies a number of other senior positions, including member of the board of directors of ExCeL London and Modon Real Estate Development Company. Before joining ADNEC, he held several positions at other government and semi-government entities. Al Dhaheri holds a master’s in strategy and national security studies from the National Defense College in Abu Dhabi, international accounting and financial management from the University of Glasgow, and a bachelor of accounting from the United Arab Emirates University.
What insights do you have on the trends shaping national economies, particularly the Abu Dhabi economy?
Abu Dhabi’s government set out a clear strategy to build the Emirate’s economy in the form of Economic Vision 2030 and the Abu Dhabi Plan. ADNEC is working closely with various government entities including the Department of Culture and Tourism and Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau to develop key pillars for the 12 sectors that have been identified. Furthermore, ADNEC contributes with its own economic impact. ADNEC works closely with organizers and partners to drive more business to Abu Dhabi. For example, in 2018 we contributed AED3.4 billion (USD925.67 million) to the economy, following nearly AED32 billion (USD8.7 billion) over the last decade. In terms of socioeconomic impact, we strive to bring the latest technology to our facility and create more jobs in the local market through attracting more high-profile international events to our venues.
What lessons have you taken away from other markets in the MICE sector globally?
We routinely attend events and conferences worldwide to learn about the latest trends and technologies that we can bring to ADNEC’s facility in Abu Dhabi. ADNEC maintains a group of teams tasked with thinking of outside-the-box ideas. One idea that has come out of this process is the Hive, a meeting room facility with a specially designed environment that enhances the experience and interactions between listeners and speakers. Today, we have many clients who are interested in booking that space. While we originally imported the concept from outside the UAE, we have now developed it to the point where we are a leader in that space.
How does ADNEC view its acquisition of ExCel London, and what other overseas markets might be of interest in the future?
ADNEC has learned a great deal from its acquisition and improvement of the ExCel London facility. We are proud of what we have done with ExCel and appreciate the relationships we have developed with investors and partners. ExCel has also opened doors for us in the European market and taught us a great deal about the way the sector is run in Europe. Now, we have begun sending many of our local Emirati talent to be trained there, and they return as industry stars. We are currently focusing our expansion and innovation efforts on the Abu Dhabi market and on developing ExCel further. For example, we seek to replicate the Hive concept in Al Ain as well as in London. We want to show our clients we not only maintain our facilities, but also continuously upgrade them.
What would be the ideal footprint of ADNEC one decade from now?
ADNEC is the right platform for partners who want to enter this region. Our facilities in Abu Dhabi are state-of-the-art, not just by national or regional standards, but by global standards. Nonetheless, we want to be the leading venue in the region. To achieve that goal, one has to work closely with their partners, team, and suppliers. We travel to many international destinations and facilities and often see that the venue is in a poorly connected location with no hotels or taxi service. In those scenarios, people do not want to go through the trouble of attending an event. Here in Abu Dhabi, however, the government has a clear vision that connectivity and face-to-face interaction are keys to business if they are executed well. When people want to make large investments in military assets or in the oil and gas industry, for example, they like to see what they are investing in up close, in a way they can touch, feel, and interact with. That is the real value of our presence in Abu Dhabi, which is the basis on which we want to expand our footprint moving forward.