Looking for a North American perspective on one of the most promising convention hotspots in the world? Find out what this former US Ambassador has to say about this destination.
As North American-based meeting professionals look for opportunities to grow attendance numbers, an increasing number of searches are taking them to new places around the globe. However, doing business in an unfamiliar host city or country comes with plenty of pressing questions. Is the destination safe? Will English-speaking attendees feel comfortable? Can the local culture deliver an authentic and unforgettable experience?
If you are currently comparing new prospective convention destinations, guidebooks cannot deliver all of the answers you need. That is why the PCMA editorial staff recently caught up with Richard Baltimore III, former US Ambassador to Oman and current advisor to the Board of Directors of Omran, Oman's Tourism Development Company. A born and raised New Yorker and Harvard Law School graduate, Baltimore III has spent time in more than 90 countries throughout his career. After our interview, one fact seems clear: Oman is at the top of his list.
“My term ended in 2006,” Baltimore III says. “My family and I reflected on where to go next and decided there was no rush to leave. The country is very safe and welcoming.”
While questions about gender equality are present in many neighboring countries, Baltimore III highlights that being a woman in Oman means being equal. That is especially important for him, too. The former US Ambassador and his wife have four daughters.
“Gender is not a question, and safety is not a question,” Baltimore III says, citing the current female Omani ambassador as an example.
The Only-In-Oman Attendee Experience
In addition to feeling secure in Oman, Baltimore III says attendees can immerse themselves in a truly authentic cultural experience. While nearby places might feel somewhat similar to other places in the West, Oman has managed to find an ideal balance that welcomes Westerners and Europeans while maintaining the country’s native spirit.
“If you look at the different countries in the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman], most have skyscrapers and the sort of sameness,” Baltimore III says. “You will not see any in Oman. You have authenticity, and more importantly, you have welcoming people.”
A Growing Association Infrastructure
In addition to Oman’s visual distinction, Baltimore III calls attention to another crucial component that makes the country an ideal place for meeting professionals.
“If you look at the demographics of the six GCC countries, only two have a majority of nationals in their population,” Baltimore III says. “Oman is one. This means there are local societies created by and for Omanis, and they have the professional need to interact with their international counterparts.”
Soon enough, those local societies will have an impressive place to welcome all of their members and their peers from around the world. The new Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre will open its doors in 2016.
“I am very excited about the OCEC coming online,” Baltimore III says. “Along with the other initiatives taken by the government, we will have the nucleus for just the synergy we need to welcome everyone to Oman for education and networking.”
Why Meeting Professionals Should Open Their Own Eyes To Oman
As the OCEC prepares to open its doors, plenty of organizations are making visits to Muscat to see why Oman is the land of opportunity, and Baltimore III encourages other meeting professionals to make the trip.
“I think anyone who has a little imagination should come and investigate what we have here in Oman,” Baltimore III says. “The infrastructure is here. The ability to meet is here. The interest is here. It is a matter of coming and having a look.”
Some meeting professionals have already taken a look, and they love what they see. Click here to read perspectives from North American and European meetings industry leaders at the inaugural PCMA Oman Advisory Summit. Also, be sure to read this feature on why The New York Times is in love with Oman.
This educational article was brought to you by the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre. As the facility prepares to officially open its doors in 2016, more meeting professionals are adding Oman to their list of site visits. Click here to check out a preview video of the Centre and go here to get in touch with the team at the OCEC to learn more about what Oman can do for your attendee experience.