Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

October 27 2014

Inside One Country’s Vision For Meetings In 2020

By David McMillin

While many in the convention industry enjoy predicting what meetings might look like in the future, one country is carving out a very detailed picture of exactly what meetings will look like by the end of the decade. It’s the Sultanate of Oman, a neighbor of the UAE that sits between the Arabian Sea and Sea of Oman.  While many Westerners may assume that the majority of Arabian Gulf countries depend on gas and oil to keep their economies healthy, the Omani government has taken a different approach to planning for the future, and meetings are a centerpiece.

Under its 2020 vision, the Sultanate of Oman has been planning an economic diversification program that has been steadily developing the country’s infrastructure to ensure the future is bright with or without oil sales.  The government first adopted the program in 1996 with a bold objective: increase non-oil GDP from 62.4 percent to 81 percent by 2020. Before the big date of 2020 on the calendar arrives, the country has something to look forward to in 2016: the opening of the new Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC).

As work progresses on the OCEC, it’s clear that industry leaders are anxiously awaiting the new building.

“Having a proper world-class convention centre is going to open up all kinds of opportunities for the whole country,” Martin Sirk, CEO, International Congress & Convention Association, told International Meetings Review. “The Omanis are right there with the smartest thinkers in the business about how to make the investment in a convention centre really pay off.”

SEE ALSO: Debunking Myths About Meetings In The Middle East

Impressing The Meetings Industry Before The Centre Even Opens

While the convention centre isn’t officially open yet, the investment is already catching the attention of many meeting planners. At PCMA’s Oman Advisory Summit, 13 leading meeting professionals from the US, Asia and Europe had a chance to preview what Oman will be able to offer. The takeaway? Many of them are already singing Oman’s praises.

“Seeing the construction progress of the new Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre and discussing prospects with meeting industry suppliers has given me a strong understanding of the Omani culture,” Ben Goedegebuure, Global General Manager EMEA, Maritz Travel Company, says. “I have the full confidence to recommend the Sultanate of Oman as a new and exciting emerging destination to our global clients.”

SEE ALSO: A Look At Building A Convention Centre Outside The US

Creating A Community Inside Oman

In addition to laying the groundwork to attract the rest of the world, Omran, the government’s tourism and development arm, and AEG Ogden, the centre’s management team, are uniting leaders within the Omani community to identify meetings and events opportunities and educate them on industry expectations.

“Omran’s local development policy ensures consulting, contracting, procurement and supply chain processes are directed toward Omani businesses,” Eng. Wael Al Lawati, CEO of Omran, says. “We hope that forging successful partnerships between OCEC and potential local suppliers will generate higher, faster and stronger returns for both their businesses and Oman.”

Interested in seeing a preview of how Vision 2020 will be brought to life soon? Click here for a fly-through of the OCEC and its surrounding five-star, two four-star and three-star hotels.

This informative feature was brought to you by Omran and the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre. As the official opening of the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre approaches, every meeting professional will be hearing more buzz about why their attendees will love Oman. Click here to learn more about why other meeting planners are already making site visits to Oman.

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