Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi Exhibition Industry Prospers, Allowances Revive Economy | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Visitors attend a luxury cars exhibition in the Red Sea city of
Jeddah October 28, 2008. REUTERS/Asma Alsharif

Dammam – The exhibition industry is witnessing a remarkable recovery in Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the year. Workers from the sector said this recovery is unprecedented, as myriads of exhibitions and events have been spotlighted in many Saudi cities, and investors, mostly from the young generation, have entered this industry.

Those factors raise optimism regarding the sector’s growth. Experts assert that the latest royal decree that restored allowances of the public sectors’ employees has significantly contributed in improving the purchase capacity and in boosting exhibitions and commercial events.

Hussain Al Faraj, head of the National Exhibitions Committee based in the Saudi Council of Chambers asserted that this activity tunes with the Saudi Vision 2030 adopted by the government. He added: “we cannot overlook the innovations of the companies and institutions working on national exhibitions to respond to the market’s needs for specialized, social, and entertainment exhibitions, which contributed in increasing the number of events”.

Faraj told Asharq Al-Awsat that the facilitation offered by the national program of conferences and exhibitions also played an important role by providing the needed support to enhance the power and activity of this sector.

Head of the National Exhibitions Committee pointed out that according to the latest statistics, Riyadh acquires over 50% of the total exhibitions and conferences held in the country, given that this city is the country’s capital and incubates big companies and the main governmental panels. He saw that the governmental entities recognized the importance of these activities in spreading knowledge and increasing trade exchange.

Nada Al-Adel, head of a “Aim High Co” for exhibition organizations in the eastern region agreed with Faraj, and highlighted the significant progress in this industry driven by the boost in youth’s projects. Young ladies and men are now seeking more than just a regular job which promises a prosperous economic stage, she considered.

Adel told Asharq Al-Awsat that offering chances to hold exterior events and exhibitions contributed in opening the doors for shopping and getting to know more about new projects.

The sector of conferences and exhibitions represents an important field in the Kingdom’s tourism market; except for pilgrimage and visits of Medina, the expenditures on exhibitions represents more than 20% of the total tourism revenues in Saudi Arabia. According to the (MAS) – Tourism Info & Research, over 3.4 million visitors attended the conferences and exhibitions where they spent more than SAR9 billion ($2.4 billions) in 2012.

Saudi Arabia comprises over 600 establishments prepared to host exhibitions, conferences, and meetings, along with more than 1,200 authorized event organizers.

The exhibition and events industry intersects with all the economic sectors and promotes for the national industries. In Canada, this industry’s revenue hits $32 billion, it represents 2% of the national product and secures jobs for more than a half million employees, according to the Meeting Professionals International (MPI)’s report.

Despite that this sector sees a state of stability worldwide, it has witnessed a remarkable and increasing growth in the GCC. Regarding to the importance of this sector in growing the Saudi economy, the government has dedicated a special interest in it.

The decision endorsed by the Council of Ministers no.246/1434 hegira to transform the National Exhibitions Committee into a national program, emphasized Saudi Arabia’s interest in promoting this important economic sector, which contributes in diversifying the economic base aiming to reduce the country’s dependability on oil as a major component in the national economy.