The Business Year

Said Al Shanfari

OMAN - Tourism

Said Al Shanfari

CEO, Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC)

Bio

Said Salim Al Shanfari’s professional experience includes an eight-year tenure in Ooredoo Oman, including director of business marketing. Most recently, he held the role of general manager of marketing communication and performance at Omantel. Al Shanfari successfully completed Oman’s National CEO Program in 2017, and in 2019, he was selected as one of the Top 100 Most Influential CEOs in Oman. He holds an MBA from the University of Hull and a double bachelor’s from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He has completed additional leadership and management courses at the London Business School and the IMD Business School and is an associate certified coach by the International Coaching Federation.

As the pride of Oman tourism and the heart of the country's conferencing and exhibitions industry, OCEC is where the “world meets and celebrates.“

What added value does OCEC bring to the tourism sector in the Sultanate?

OCEC continues to establish new business partnerships among a growing list of local tourism sector suppliers. We also contribute to the development of local SMEs in this sector, while attracting greater mobilization of investment. Through our MICE-related activity, we provide a direct boost to local suppliers such as hotels, airlines, transport service providers, event organizers, food and beverage suppliers, and tour guide companies. OCEC provides a platform for international networking opportunities, strengthening international relations, sharing research and technology advancements, enhancing professional development within the local population, and increasing awareness of major Omani sponsors.

What experience do you aim to provide to your visitors when they meet at OCEC?

The Oman Ministry of Tourism’s slogan is “Beauty has an Address.” This natural and cultural beauty is also reflected through OCEC’s interior and exterior design, through our professional and friendly team, and through the OCEC catchphrase “where the world meets and celebrates.” As Oman’s premium events and conferencing venue, we provide a full portfolio of events space. Since its opening in 2016, OCEC has hosted the very best shows and celebrations of regional and international industry, science, medicine, sport, art, culture, and social life. In terms of our event and conferencing activity, during the pandemic, OCEC was successful in finding “new solutions for a new normal.” One such new solution was our adoption of hybrid events—limited-capacity events combined with larger virtual audiences attending the same meeting online. OCEC also recently rolled out a range of new services and facilities for
event organizers.

How are you contributing to the sustainable future of Oman?

Through its tourism-related activities, OCEC is aligned with the nation’s Vision 2040 strategy to develop a more diversified economy. This is a key component to establishing a more sustainable future for Oman. In terms of the venue itself, OCEC makes use of environmentally sustainable design practices that meet international LEED Gold certification accredited by US Green Building Council. OCEC also enjoys a reduced annual carbon footprint through its use of solar power for water heating systems, and through its advanced “green building” style with open spaces and expansive concourse areas. In addition, OCEC’s energy center serves as a district cooling plant for the entire Madinat Al Irfan east precinct, delivering greater energy efficiency for the complex. Extensive use of natural lighting also accompanies the building design, and the OCEC complex overlooks a wadi and wetland nature reserve, which is home to a variety of Oman’s exotic bird life and flora.

The OCEC has been converted into a vaccination center. To what extent have you contributed to the immunization process?

OCEC was in a prime position to facilitate a successful roll out of the Ministry of Health’s National Vaccination Campaign for COVID-19 in large part due to our capacity to host large numbers of visitors, and our flexibility and experience in providing infrastructure for events of all kinds. For the roll out, OCEC allocated over 100,000sqm to cater to an expected 10,000 vaccination visitors on a daily basis. As a mark of OCEC’s effectiveness, a quick vaccination turnaround time was achieved: From the time of arrival, to the time of departure after receiving the vaccination, the journey did not take more than 20 minutes.

Which are your long-term plans and aspirations?

OCEC’s vision and goals align with the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism’s (MoHT) National Tourism Strategy 2040, which foresees an overall increase to 11 million international and local tourists per year within Oman, the development of additional tourism clusters, growth in tourism-related job creation for Omanis, and an increased contribution to the country’s GDP. Overall, OCEC plans to continue being a premier-choice destination in the region for the world’s meetings, incentives, conferences, and events tourism sector.

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