The only location ever to host the FIATA Congress twice within eight years, Dubai will this month again become a rendezvous point for the global freight forwarding and transport elite.
In 1999 Dubai played host to the FIATA (International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations) Congress for the first time. The aftermath was nothing short of astonishing, members and participants alike claimed the event an unprecedented success, sparking its regional body, the NAFL (National Association of Freight and Logistics) to plot its swift return. Succeeding in the task, this year marks not only Dubai's record holding status in FIATA's history - the only destination to hold the congress twice in eight years - but holds a valuable opportunity for all participants to witness the progress achieved in the region in such a short space of time.
"Any members present at the 1999 congress will return to Dubai and see just how much has changed. They will look at the buildings and infrastructure and realise how serious this region is about transportation," beams Ali Al Jallaf, chairman, Dubai host committee, FIATA 2007.
FIATA brings the industry together to discuss, dissect and establish direction to bring forward positive change to improve the movement of international cargo - William Gottlieb.
"The sheer investment coming into Dubai is clear to all, especially in regards to the airport project in Jebel Ali. We had such overwhelming feedback from the last event, that we felt pushed to hold it again and I am certain it will prove successful once more," he adds.
The role of host, however, is not one to be taken lightly and the last few months have required much preparation from the NAFL in the lead up to the event, which will be held from the 18th to 20th October at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Meeting on a weekly basis, the host committee has taken every possible precaution to ensure the congress runs smoothly. "We have almost 700 participants already confirmed for the congress and are confident we can make our target of 1000. We have made a lot of progress so far and are about 90% prepared - there are only small adjustments left to make," confirms Al Jallaf.
The host committee's tasks are far reaching, ranging from organising sponsorship to choosing accommodation and activities for participants. From next year onwards, FIATA is set to change this policy and resume all organisation duties itself, perhaps placing further importance on the Dubai committee to prove its worth.
The congress serves a number of vital purposes to its attendees who will be flying to Dubai from every thinkable stretch of the globe. Education of best industry practices always remains high on the FIATA agenda, but with many key players from the transport sector assembling together, a valuable opportunity for networking and business opportunities is presented to the Middle East.
"This is an opportunity for the host country to showcase its ability to participants. The potential for meeting possible clients and discussing business is immense and I have always encouraged companies to participate," says Al Jallaf.
"As vice president of the cargo unit at Dubai Cargo Village, it will be a useful tool for attracting companies from varying parts of the world to our facilities," he demonstrates.
Addressing each segment of the transportation sector, the congress will deliver a range of speeches, conferences and workshops as researched by FIATA. The global body is under no illusion of the responsibility it bears to the industry.
"International transportation is multi facetted and geographically diverse. Our delegates are not only forwarders but also representatives of various governmental and non-governmental organisations. FIATA brings the industry together to discuss, dissect and establish direction to bring forward positive change to improve the movement of international cargo," says William Gottlieb, incoming president of FIATA.
"Dubai has transformed itself in to a significant transport hub, with an infrastructure second to none. Added to this the fascination of some of the world's best architecture, the solitude of the desert and the warmth of its people, Dubai was a natural and popular choice to be our venue once again," he adds.
More precisely targeting the Middle East air cargo community, the congress also features a presence from the Air Freight Institute (AFI). For over forty years the association has been an active promoter of the international air transport industry, inevitably developing a close relationship with FIATA.
"The Air Freight Institute will hold pre-meetings with IATA member air carriers under the IATA/FIATA Consultative Council. This group meets at least twice yearly to provide ongoing dialogue on industry issues. Our Dubai agenda will include training, e-freight, CASS, security and partnership programmes," illustrates Gottlieb.
Security appears an underlying theme at this year's congress. In light of the recent interest from local and international companies in Dubai towards adopting international security certification the issue could not be more timely. "Our main forum held just after the opening ceremonies will focus on security issues. We expect all delegates to find that the panelists represent a diverse cross section and bring unique perspectives to this issue. Those attend will find the time both thought provoking and insightful," notes Gottlieb.
Click here to view the exhibitors of the FIATA Congress