IAAPA, the global association for the attractions industry, successfully concluded the IAAPA Middle East Trade Summit 2024 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi with participation from 400 attendees and 45 exhibitors. Organized in collaboration with Miral, the creator of immersive experiences and destinations, and the Abu Dhabi Exhibition Convention and Exhibition Bureau, the Summit hosted two days of insightful education sessions featuring 27 international experts.
Industry leaders from globally renowned entities explored innovative strategies in destination development and management, operational efficiency, and guest satisfaction to foster continued growth across the region’s attractions and theme parks industry. The Summit opened with a welcome keynote address by Mohamed Abdalla Al Zaabi, Group CEO of Miral. Additional speakers included Scott O’Neil, CEO, Merlin Entertainments; Ahmad Hussain, COO, Dubai Holding Entertainment; and Don Potts, President, Qiddiya Investment Company; with many more industry leaders from Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), The National Aquarium Abu Dhabi – Al Qana, Atlantis Resorts, Majid Al Futtaim, Saudi Entertainment Ventures (SEVEN), amongst others.
A series of interactive sessions and workshops discussed trending topics like Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital transformation, sustainability, and innovative attractions. A selection of guided facility tours, or “EDUTours”, welcomed trade visitors to Yas Island’s world-class theme parks and attractions, enabling them to gain valuable insights into the operations and creative processes behind these leading attractions. Participants had the opportunity to visit the recently opened SeaWorld Yas Island, Abu Dhabi; Ferrari World Yas Island, Abu Dhabi; Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi; and Yas Waterworld Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. The Summit also presented the inaugural edition of the IAAPA Ride Safety Report, specifically tailored for the Middle East region.
During the Summit, IAAPA announced it will be expanding its presence in the region with a local office in Dubai and appointing Ahmed Zakaria as the Director of Operations for the Middle East. Zakaria arrives with more than 20 years of experience in the exhibitions and event management industry across the MENA region. He will play a key role within the IAAPA EMEA team, focusing on consolidating and developing membership reach in the region. His addition will allow the Association to enhance services to members and industry connections in the Middle East and provide an efficient way to expand IAAPA trade events in the future.
“I am excited to have Ahmed join the IAAPA team and look forward to exploring new opportunities in the Middle East by having a local office available to interact with members and industry partners,” said IAAPA EMEA Executive Director and Vice President, Peter van der Schans. “Our education and trade events have grown significantly in recent years, and this is evident even today as we host the 2024 Middle East Trade Summit in Abu Dhabi with 45 exhibitors and 400 attendees.”