The number of meetings in The Middle East has grown from 100 in 2007 to 255 in 2016.

This was another decade of great success for the association meetings sector. ICCA captured 12,212 rotating international association meetings taking place worldwide in 2016, which is clearly an all-time record for ICCA’s annual snapshot of immediate past year’s meetings data.

More than five decades of doubling every ten years 
Globally, the number of association meetings has doubled in a decade: from just under 6,000 in 2006 to over 12,000 in 2016. This means that the trend of exponential growth, as identified in ICCA’s advocacy report “A modern history of international association meetings: 1963-2013”, published at ICCA’s 50-year anniversary in 2013 (available on, continues to apply: The number of association meetings continues to double every decade.

Middle East fastest growing region
The market share of the Middle East region has grown even quicker: from 100 to 255 in a decade. This growth of over 250% is the largest for any region in the world.

The estimated total number of participants in the Middle East has grown from just of 100,000 in 2007 to an average of almost 200,000 in the last 5 years.

Most meetings were about medical sciences and technology. The amount of technological meeting is higher than in other parts of the world.

ICCA opened its first first part-time Regional Office in the Middle East in 2013 and has deployed numerous activities to advance the association meetings market in the region.

ICCA CEO Martin Sirk said: “This trends helps illustrate why ICCA took the strategic decision to open up a full-time Regional Office in Dubai at the start of 2016.  The association sector is taking off in the Middle East, driven by growth in an educated, professional middle class, a desire for professional education, standards and accreditations, and an understanding by international associations that this is a market of great long-term potential, both for growth in membership and for building business for their members based outside the region.” 

ICCA Regional Director Senthil Gopinath added: “We are particularly delighted to be partnering with Dubai Association Centre in the first Dubai Association Conference taking place 11-12 December this year (, which is designed to build association capacity and awareness across the region. Over the last twelve months some of my most popular programmes for ICCA members have been seminars on bidding for association meetings, and how to set up and operate effective congress “ambassador programmes”, where local doctors and business leaders are encouraged and assisted to lead these bids.  The association meetings sector is entering a new and exciting phase in this region, for both suppliers and organisers.”

ICCA statistics measure association meetings since 1963
ICCA is the global expert in international association meetings and has collected data on these meetings since 1963. For almost as long as there has been an international association meetings sector, ICCA has been there alongside, in all regions of the world, to observe and carefully record its growth. In the world of international meetings, international comparison reports of other meetings market segments on a global scale are lacking. Most countries are still struggling to obtain even a partial picture of the current size and impact of this complex and fragmented industry.

Due to lack of global figures on other meeting segments, they are often mistakenly perceived as the destination rankings for the meetings industry as a whole, even though they only cover a narrow segment of the total meetings market: To be included, meetings must be organised by associations, must be held on a regular basis, have at least 50 delegates, and rotate between at least three countries.

Whilst the ICCA statistics provide some evidence of a city or country’s relative performance, it is only when all data on all the meetings taking place in a destination are considered – corporate, intergovernmental, non-rotating, etc – that a true, complete picture can be seen. ICCA always advises its members to collect their own statistics on all meetings they organise, and provide a full picture on their performance.

The full ICCA statistics reports are only available to ICCA members in its online Destination Comparison Tool. Comprehensive rankings for all countries and cities will be released to non-ICCA members and the media in mid-June.

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