His Excellency Dr. Hassan A. Fakhro, Minister of Industry and Commerce, chairman of Bahrain Exhibition & Convention Authority (BECA), chaired BECA’s board of directors meeting held on Monday, March 22, 2010. The meeting reviewed BECA’s operation performance for 2009 and projected exhibitions and conferences plans for 2010-2011, which are due to be held at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre. Following the meeting, His Excellency Dr. Fakhro noted that, “Since its establishment by virtue of a law promulgated in September 2006, BECA has been instrumental in growing the total number of bookings at BIECC and charting Bahrain’s course towards a continued promising future in business tourism.”
The Minister stressed the importance of achieving developments relating to the much-needed expansion of Bahrain’s flagship exhibition and meeting facility, which will help promote the country’s international reputation as a destination of choice were also reviewed. The Expo City, which will be established through a joint partnership consisting of Bahrain Mamtalakat Holding Company, Bahrain Exhibition and Convention Authority (BECA), and the private sector through the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will increase the area covered by the existing center by nearly ten-fold. The Expo City, which is planned to be operational by 2013, will maximize business opportunities in the long-term for the stakeholders of Bahrain’s MICE sector and provide significant additional capacity for large-scale conventions, trade and international exhibitions, and world-class sporting and social events in Bahrain.
The venue operator of Bahrain’s flagship exhibition and convention facility ended 2009 on a positive note, having concluded agreements for 139 bookings, up 11 per on the 2008 figure. Since the launch of BECA in 2006 as Bahrain’s forerunner business tourism authority, bookings at Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre (BIECC) have been steadily increasing over the years, with the 2009 bookings representing a 223 percent increase over the 43 bookings of 2006 and the highest since the opening of the Exhibition Centre 1991. In terms of visitor figures, more than 397,000 local, regional, and international visitors attended the major events hosted at the BIECC in 2009 compared with 385,000 in 2008.
Other highlights of BECA’s achievements in 2009 include its coordination of familiarization trips/site inspections of Bahrain’s facilities for meeting planners and buyers from the UK, Germany, Malaysia, and Portugal; hosting of four Team Bahrain presentations in order to win essential industry stakeholder buy-in of BECA’s activities and promote continuous cooperation with the destination’s business and leisure tourism sector with Joyce Dogniez, Meeting Professionals International director of operations – Europe, Middle East & Africa as guest speaker for the fourth quarter; improvement of management systems; implementation of capital expenditure projects; and the launching of the new and completely-redesigned BECA website with a simpler and easier to remember URL at www.beca.bh .
Last year was also a hallmark year for BECA, which hosted several international specialized exhibitions, conferences, and sporting events being held for the first time in Bahrain. These include BECA’s own Bahrain International Food and Hospitality Expo and Bahrain International Natural Health Products & Green Expo, Work Boat Gulf, organized by Melbourne-based Baird Publications; the 10th Middle East African Council of Ophthalmology (MEACO) Medical Congress organized by Riyadh-based MEACO; the 21st Congress of the International Academy of Pathology – Arab Division organized by the Bahrain Association of Pathologists in cooperation with the International Association of Pathology; Offshore Middle East, organized by Essex-based PennWell Corporation; Jewellery Arabia, which attracted a record number of 600 companies from 30 countries, as well as nearly 40,000 jewelry trade buyers and private collectors; Mother & Baby Show, the inaugural event of Bahrain-based Magnum Events and Exhibition Management; and Raw Power Bahrain, organized by Bahrain Weightlifting and Bodybuilding Federation (BWBF).
Other key events hosted at Bahrain’s flagship exhibition and Industry during 2009 included Gulf Industry Fair, Cleaner Technologies for Economic Development, Power-Gen Middle East, Middle East Financial Technology Exhibition & Conference MEFTEC (the world’s premier financial technology event for emerging markets) 2009, Middle East Oil Show (MEOS), Energy Conservation, Invest in Bahrain Forum, 17th Al Ayam Cultural Festival, Titan’s Global Convention, Bahrain International Property, Middle East Oil Show 2009, Riffa Views Bahrain International Garden Show (RVBIGS) 2009, gulfBID 2009, Bahrain International Travel Expo (BITE) 2009, Bahrain International E-Gov Forum & Exhibition, Energy & Water Conservation Expo 2009, and the Bahrain Summer Festival 2009, which attracted a combined audience of around 24,000. RVBIGS, Bahrain’s biggest annual gardening and lifestyle trade show now on its sixth year, remained a crowd favorite, attracting around 21,900 visitors in April this year.
Bahrain’s pioneering spirit won the day for the destination as it prepares to host this industry seminar in the GCC for the first time. UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, the only global association representing the exhibition industry, selected Bahrain for its 2010 Open Seminar in the Middle East, which will be hosted by Bahrain Exhibition and Convention Authority (BECA) at the Bahrain international Exhibition & Convention Centre (BIECC) commencing March 29-31, 2010. “Balancing Vision with Reality in Today’s Exhibition World” will be the focus of the 2010 Open Seminar program. New Pricing Strategies; Optimizing Sponsorship Value; Developing Themes Based on Visitor Needs; Coping With Complex Hotel Demands; Investigating Ways To Combine Ethical Responsibility With Business Reality In Today’s Green Environment; and Looking At Exciting Ways To Maximize The Positive Impact Of Virtual Exhibitions will be addressed by the international speakers.