In May, the International Conference of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) brought 2,900 members from 113 different countries to Dubai for its largest, and one of its most diverse, conventions yet. Delegates went to the premier event for three days of keynote speakers, education sessions, international presenters, and networking events. Each year, the conference is held in a different corner of the world, drawing a wider and more varied audience.
“Dubai, for us, is a natural location to hold a conference like this,” said Richard Chambers, president and CEO of IIA. “First of all, it’s really at the crossroads of the world as far as access and people being able to get here easily. We first hosted a Global Council meeting here in 2014. We drew a record number of attendees from more than 80 countries for that event.”
IIA is made up of more than 190,000 members from 170 countries, and the international conference is a great example of the diversity within the group. “International conferences pull together speakers on so many topics,” said J. Michael Peppers, IIA’s 2017-18 global chairman of the board, “and we’re able to get diverse viewpoints and opportunities to learn about technology we may not have in our home regions.”
This year’s conference was memorable for many reasons. For one, it was the first to have an Arabic track — beyond the main general sessions, the conference had parallel tracks running throughout — and, as noted, it was the group’s largest international conference. “For me that is an important legacy because it says that an international city like Dubai will draw very, very well,” Chambers said. “I think this could be transformational as far as the future of our international conference.”
Among the events at the 2018 conference were a welcome reception at Dubai World Trade Centre, themed “Tawasol — The Emirati Journey,” which highlighted local culture. There was also a gala dinner, “A Night in Dubai — A Festival of Nations,” which took place at Meydan Racecourse, with a parade by Dubai police, entertainment from around the world, and a fireworks display.
The UAE Internal Auditors Association led the bid to bring the event to Dubai, assisted by Dubai Business Events, the city’s official convention bureau. The success of Dubai’s hosting of the IIA Global Council in 2014 proved to be a key stepping stone to bringing the IIA’s marquee event to the city.
This year’s international conference left a lasting impression on attendees. “From the time that we’ve had here and the opportunities we’ve had to network, the speakers that we’ve heard, the experiences that we’ve had in the city of Dubai, it’s been a tremendous experience,” Peppers said, “and I know that our delegates are going to remember it extremely favorably from the things that they’ve learned and the benefits they’ve received from coming to this conference.”