April 18, 2024
Saudi Arabia Meetings Incentives Conferences and Exhibitions

The Growing MICE Industry in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has witnessed tremendous growth in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry over the past decade. With large investments from the government and private sector, the Kingdom is establishing itself as a top destination for MICE events in the Middle East region.

Government Support Driving Growth

The government of Saudi Arabia has identified the MICE industry as a key driver for the diversification of the economy and job creation. Several initiatives and projects worth billions of dollars have been launched to develop world-class infrastructure for hosting all types of MICE events. The Vision 2030 plan laid the foundation for transforming Saudi Arabia into a global hub for tourism and leisure by leveraging the untapped potential of the sector. Major conference centers, exhibition facilities and hotels compliant with international standards are being built in key cities.

Riyadh leading the Pack

As the capital city, Riyadh is at the forefront of this development and offers some of the best Saudi Arabia Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) infrastructure in the country. The brand new Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center (RICEC) located in Olaya district is one of the largest facilities of its kind in the Middle East with a total space of 130,000 square meters. It has 75 meeting rooms of varying sizes, a 7,000 person main auditorium and 30,000 square meters of exhibition space. Major events such as the Future Investment Initiative conference are now held here every year. The new hotels like Riyadh Seasons, Four Seasons, and rising ones like JW Marriott and Mövenpick are well equipped to accommodate large conferences and incentive groups.

Emergence of other Cities

While Riyadh leads the way, other cities are also enhancing their MICE offering. Jeddah is emerging as the commercial hub on the western coast with the new Jeddah International Conference and Exhibition Center (JICEC) and state-of-the-art hotels. The Blue Waters Island complex in Jeddah will provide attractions for incentive travelers when complete. Dammam on the east coast has the Dhahran Expo Center for exhibitions and trade shows catering to the industrial city. Al Khobar and other Eastern Province cities are also gearing up with new properties. Even cities like Al-Ula and Tabuk in the north are developing infrastructure to tap their potential in heritage, culture and eco-tourism related MICE segments.

Growing Regional and International Events

With world-class facilities and eased visa policies, Saudi Arabia is hosting more regional and global MICE events each year. The flagship Future Investment Initiative conference organized by PIF has become a leading event for discussions on economy and investment opportunities. Health and energy sector conferences are other major attractions held regularly in Riyadh and other cities. The relaunched MDL Beast Soundstorm in 2021 saw over 700,000 people attending the electronic music festival in Riyadh, highlighting how international entertainment events are also being organized in the Kingdom now. Exhibitions like the Riyadh Travel Fair and Red Sea International Film Festival now have international participation and exhibitions.

Role of Private Sector

While the government drives large infrastructure projects, the private sector is playing an active role through event management companies and operators of MICE venues. Notable players include the National Company for Exhibitions and Conferences (NEC), Saudi Exhibitions Company, MICE Club and Star Events. They are organizing diverse mid-size and niche events by tying up with international associations and industries. New homegrown operators are also emerging to cater to regional events in Arabic and Islamic categories. Hotel chains like Rove, Novotel, Movenpick are partnering with these companies for on-site hosting facilities and accommodation tie-ups.

Opportunities ahead

With average annual growth projected at over 10% in the coming years, Saudi Arabia is poised to become a$ 1 billion MICE market by 2030. The rapidly increasing airline seats and hotel rooms, world-class infrastructure and strategic location in a time zone bridging East and West will further boost arrivals. Developing the medical, education and Islamic tourism segments through specialized MICE offers huge potential as well. The hosting of high profile global sporting and entertainment extravaganzas will put Saudi Arabia on the global map and reinforce its credentials for hosting large-scale events. Overall, the MICE industry is bringing lucrative business opportunities and changing perceptions about the Kingdom as a prosperous destination.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it