RIYADH: The fourth Saudi Event Show started at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center on Sept. 18.
The event, which covers sectors such as event organizers, entertainment professionals, experts in marketing, PR and creative fields, operations specialists, event technology and solution providers and regulators, presents a valuable occasion to network with over 2,500 event professionals and more than 100 exhibitors within the industry.
One panel discussion, titled “How the Events Industry Has Fared So Far,” provided insight into the progress and impact of Saudi Vision 2030 on the market for events in the Kingdom.
Lately, the events industry has made notable advancements in Saudi Arabia.
CEO of Electra Benoit Honnart said: “In comparison to neighboring countries, Saudi has the richness of having a young generation to take it further and push that sector further.”
Khalid Al-Muawad is the CEO of Story at MBC Group. He co-founded the first company in Saudi Arabia that specializes in designing interactive digital experiences using state-of-the-art technologies, including augmented reality, virtual reality and others.
Al-Muawad said: “International companies have been in the market for many, many years before we in Saudi started getting into the events business. We have to respect that part.
“But we see the creative edge and experience reflecting and having the locals play a significant role,” he said.
Al-Muawad added that Saudi Arabia works with international companies in certain areas to provide them with the local access they need.
Naji El-Haddad, the regional director for UFI, said that the economic impact of exhibitions globally is estimated at $200 billion in gross domestic product.
UFI is a global association of the Middle East and Africa exhibition industry. It now works with the Saudi Conventions and Exhibitions General authority to provide those programs.
“Yet, the impact on the GDP for the Middle East entirely is a mere 0.75 percent, so that amounts to $1.5 billion,” said El-Haddad.
“But this is not bad news for me. This is good news because this means a huge opportunity to propagate this sector.”
El-Haddad cultivated strategic partnerships with prestigious organizations across the public and private sectors, such as the World Bank, the European Commission, the UN Development Program, the International Renewable Energy Agency, and ministries in India and Japan.
He said that event management has to come from a top-down approach. “So, it has to be regulation-driven and shouldn't be kept in an individual willingness to do so.”
El-Haddad added that developing human capital is very important for the sector, especially in a country with one of the Gulf region’s largest populations.
“One of the most critical elements is training and exposing Saudi nationals or people in the Kingdom to international and multinational companies and the best practices that can also strengthen their education and experience.”
The event comprises over 25 engaging seminars, accessible at no cost, encompassing a comprehensive range of topics about the country’s event industry.