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Sun 12 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

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No time like the present

You only have to look at Dubai's quick rise to fame as a leading tourism destination to see what can be achieved here.

The market for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions has evolved over several decades with established meetings industry markets such as the US, the UK and Europe taking around 40 years to mature.

An essential component of this evolution has been the creation of a profession - the meetings profession - as well as the terminology used to describe the industry, from MICE to the Meetings Industry.

So at what stage is the Middle East's Meetings Industry?

The Gulf countries in particular are still deemed emerging markets and those ‘in the know' have predicted that it will take 10 years for this region's Meetings Industry to catch up with the rest of the world.

But why should it?

You only have to look at Dubai's quick rise to fame as a leading tourism destination to see what can be achieved.

Why wait 10 years when we have the cash to create the hardware and infrastructure required within a much shorter time frame?

The Dubai Trade Centre Jebel Ali will cover 1.3 million square foot in its first phase alone.

Those in the driving seat have made their vision clear - to make Dubai the world's leading destination for all events, conferences and exhibitions.

But this is not the only emirate or destination with this vision in mind - Abu Dhabi, for a start, is giving Dubai a run for its money with plans to become top-pick for international meetings, conferences and events.

With this hardware in place, the only question mark hangs over the software - the people.

It's time for the Meetings Industry to invest in people to ensure it is geared up to stage the biggest and the best.

There is already enough influx of talent in this region. Companies need to capitalise on these skills, provide on-the-job training and in true Gulf style, beat the 10-year timeframe imposed by global players. Gemma Greenwood is the senior group editor of ITP Business' travel & hospitality magazines.

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