Developing world-class attractions and destinations to revive the region’s tourism Download Brochure Download MENA Leisure & Attractions Report 2022 Dubai, UAE 28-29 September 2022

Event Overview

The MENA region’s location provides it with great potential to become a global destination for travel and tourism. Being geographically close to key regions, such as Europe, Africa, and Asia, has facilitated the growth of tourism in the region, which in turn has largely contributed to the economy over the past years. With several global heritage and religious sites, modern attractions, and leisure destinations, over 50 million tourists visit the region every year.

With the slowdown caused by the pandemic, relevant authorities and decision makers have had to rethink their strategies and implement new plans for reopening existing destinations and establish new attractions in a safe and sustainable matter and adjust to the new normal while reviving the industry and increasing its contribution to the local economies. As the world is now recovering, the region has received a growing inflow of tourists driving growth in attractions and destinations. However, some key challenges still hinder the region from capitalizing on the industry’s full potential, especially with the changing demographics, infrastructure, weather conditions, and technology developments.

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In this light, the MENA Attractions & Destinations Forum is taking place on 28-29 September 2022 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to discuss the region’s visions for the industry and explore upcoming projects and how to drive growth sustainably and effectively. The Forum will host over 300 international and regional stakeholders from key sectors, including governments, tourism agencies and consultancies, hotel chains, park owners and operators, museums, culture and heritage site authorities, technology and solution providers, and investment institutions.

Advisors

JORGE PINTO
JORGE PINTO

Culture Planning and Development Director, Department of Culture and Tourism
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

OSAMA KHLAWEE
OSAMA KHLAWEE

AVP Tourism Sites and Destination Development, Ministry of Tourism
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

PATRICK DUFFY
PATRICK DUFFY

Director at Department of Culture and Tourism
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Richard Krent
Richard Krent

Director – Development, Qiddiya
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Chris Flynn
Chris Flynn

Executive Chairman and Founder, The World Tourism Association for Culture and Heritage,
Sydney

Charalampos Chaitas
Charalampos Chaitas

Editorial Board Member, Museum International, International Council of Museums,
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Speakers

Abdulrajak Rajvada
Abdulrajak Rajvada

Head of Business Excellence and Director Development, Dubai Parks & Resorts, DXB Entertainment,
United Arab Emirates

Arsen Safaryan
ARSEN SAFARYAN

Director of Information & Data Management, Saudi Entertainment Ventures - SEVEN
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Abdulrahman Alqudaib
Abdulrahman Alqudaib

Advisor, General Entertainment Authority (GEA),
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Badar Khan
Badar Khan

Director- Digital Mobility Platforms, NEOM,
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Danish Samad
Danish Samad

Director & Group Treasurer, King Abdullah Economic City,
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Nigel Fell
Nigel Fell

President & CEO, The World Tourism Association for Culture and Heritage,
Cyprus 

Charalampos Chaitas
CHARALAMPOS CHAITAS

Editorial Board Member, Museum International, International Council of Museums
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

John Sullivan
JOHN SULLIVAN

Regional Director, The Big picture
United Kingdom

Dr Lubna Al Mazroei
Dr. Lubna Al Mazroei

Tourism Planning Expert, Oman Investment Authority
Oman

Lennard Otto
Lennard Otto

IMG Worlds of Adventure & Vice Chairman of The Board at Zhejiang Happy Cultural Tourism Development Co Ltd
United Arab Emirates

Mahir Abdulkarim Julfar
Mahir Abdulkarim Julfar

Executive Vice President at Dubai World Trade Centre,
United Arab Emirates

Mohammed Almohammed
Mohammed Almohammed

Board Member - Saudi Tour Guide Association
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Mohamed Ghazala
Mohamed Ghazala

Vice President of ASIFA International, Chair of Cinematic Arts School
Effat University, Egypt

Nicholas Murphy
Nicholas Murphy

Head of Entertainment, IMG Worlds of Adventure,
United Arab Emirates

Nora Abanmi
Nora Abanmi

Museum Director, King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue – KACND
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Niyas Arakkal
NIYAS ARAKKAL

Destination Management Officer – GM, Emaar, The Economic City (The Red Sea Project)
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Oliver Baxter
OLIVER BAXTER

Director Tourism, Farah Experiences
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

OSAMA KHLAWEE
OSAMA KHLAWEE

AVP Tourism Sites and Destination Development, Ministry of Tourism
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

PATRICK DUFFY
PATRICK DUFFY

Director, Department of Culture and Tourism
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Rosanna Chopra
Rosanna Chopra

Destination Development Executive Director, The Red Sea Development Company
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

RICHARD KRENT
RICHARD KRENT

Director – Development, Qiddiya
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Sarah Warden
Sarah Warden

Head of Retail, Museum of the Future,
United Arab Emirates

STEVEN HAZE
STEVEN HAZE

Director, Destinations Management, Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority
Bahrain

ZIAD AL HALBI
ZIAD AL HALBI

Director – New Destinations Development, Meraas Holding
United Arab Emirates

Agenda

Day 1 - 28th September

TIMECONFERENCE PROGRAM DAY 1
08:00 - 09:00Registration, refreshments, and networking
09:00 - 09:05Great Minds Group opening remarks
09:05 - 09:15Chairman welcome and opening remarks
09:15 – 09:30Opening keynote address

Session 1 – Reopening and reviving destinations in the new normal

09:30 – 10:15Opening panel one - Region’s vision and strategies for attractions and destinations development

  • Discussing strategic plans to developing attractions and destination in the region
  • Reviving tourism by building world-class, innovative and attractive destinations and drive positive economic impact
  • Exploring how to nurture a cultural community that will preserve national heritage and values for social destination development and grow internal tourism
  • Establishing the right policy framework to increase attractions and destinations’ contribution to the region’s sustainable economic growth agendas

Panelist:

  • Jorge Pinto Culture Planning and Development Director, Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Lennard Otto IMG Worlds of Adventure & Vice Chairman of The Board at Zhejiang Happy Cultural Tourism Development Co Ltd United Arab Emirates
  • Mahir Abdulkarim Julfar Executive Vice President at Dubai World Trade Centre United Arab Emirates
10:15 - 10:30Keynote session
10:30 – 11:10Panel discussion two – Promoting and rebranding your destinations

  • Rebranding destinations post pandemic to improve travelers’ confidence
  • Bridging the gap between visitors’ concern over safety and security and the destination offerings
  • Increasing visitor awareness by making your destination a unique and superior alternative
  • Capitalizing on domestic travel by locally promoting attractions and destinations

Panelist:

  • Anastasiia Cherkasova Head of Events, Museum of The Future, United Arab Emirates
  • Niyas Arakkal Destination Management Officer – GM, Emaar, The Economic City (The Red Sea Project) Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Steven Haze Director, Destinations Management, Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority, Bahrain
11:10 – 11:25Presentation – Capitalizing on live entertainment to increase visitors

  • Exploring role of live entertainment as a popular and upcoming new stream for attracting potential visitors
  • Providing a more engaging visitor experience
  • Serving as a catalyst in the off-season to attract large number of visitors and revive destinations
  • Promoting live events via online and offline platforms to create awareness

Speaker:

  • Miguel Evoy Head of Entertainment, Emaar Entertainment LLC, United Arab Emirates
11:25 – 11:35Technology innovation session 1
This session will highlight latest technologies in the development of attractions and destinations. The session consists of 10-minute presentation from an expert in the industry who will provide insights and case studies on the successful application of a variety of solutions and innovations.
11:35 – 12:00Networking and coffee break

Session 2 – Developing destinations that cater to a diverse population

12:00 – 12:15Presentation – Developing innovative family entertainment and edutainment that meets visitor requirement

  • Creating all-in-one area to engage the entire family under one roof and promote emotional values
  • Integrating cultural and traditional experiences in family entertainment to increase foot traffic of international visitors
  • Engaging kids and families in a safe and secure environment and creating a healthy family experience
  • Educating kids using entertainment as an advantage for the new generation to avoid and diversify from theoretical knowledge
  • Exploring technologies, such as virtual reality, wearable digital gadgets, AV, for a quality-focused family experience

Speaker:

  • Charalampos Chaitas Editorial Board Member, Museum International, International Council of Museums, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
12:15 – 12:25Technology innovation session 2
This session will highlight latest technologies in the development of attractions and destinations. The session consists of 10-minute presentation from an expert in the industry who will provide insights and case studies on the successful application of a variety of solutions and innovations.
12:25 – 13:10Panel discussion three - Converting heritage sites into new attractions to cater to different population segments

  • Discussing the importance of transforming cultural heritage sites into new destinations
  • Exploring different approvals, policies, financial requirements, and licensing required in the conversion process
  • Effective management of the logistics and security aspects during the transformation and restoration process
  • Providing the heritage values and cultural experience for different segments of local and international visitors
  • Exploring advanced tools and technologies, such as logistics systems and construction technologies, needed to preserve heritage sites without damages

Panelist:

  • Mohamed Ghazala Vice President of ASIFA International, Chair of Cinematic Arts School, Effat University, Egypt
  • Nora Abanmi Museum Director, King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue – KACND, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Patrick Duffy Director, Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
13:10 – 13:25Project Showcase – Museums and heritage site developments in the MENA region This session will discuss the upcoming museums and heritage projects in the region by experts and project directors from across different countries in the region.

Speaker:

  • Nora Abanmi Museum Director, King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue – KACND, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
13:25 – 14:10Panel discussion four - Driving innovations in theme parks and water parks

  • Identifying the right visitor profiles and population segments for your park to provide the right experience
  • Enhancing park rides to create a memorable customer journey and increase repeat visitation
  • Identifying the right solutions to ensure visitor safety and security (audio assistants, harnesses, seat belts, hydraulics, video intercoms, alarms, cameras…etc)
  • Utilising advanced technologies to enhancing park visitor experience with robots, chatbots, AI, lightings, scanner, electric vehicles, information screens, online ticketing…etc.

Panelist:

  • Arsen Safaryan Director of Information and Data Management, Saudi Entertainment Ventures - SEVEN, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Dr. Lubna Al Mazroei Tourism Planning Expert, Oman Investment Authority, Oman
  • Ziad Al Halbi Director for New Destinations Development, Meraas Holding, United Arab Emirates
  • Utilising advanced technologies to enhancing park visitor experience with robots, chatbots, AI, lightings, scanner, electric vehicles, information screens, online ticketing…etc.
14:10 – 14:20Technology innovation session 3
This session will highlight latest technologies in the development of attractions and destinations. The session consists of 10-minute presentation from an expert in the industry who will provide insights and case studies on the successful application of a variety of advanced solutions and innovations.
14:20 – 14:35Project showcases - Extreme sports and theme parks This session will discuss the upcoming theme and extreme adventure parks development projects in the region by experts and project heads from different countries in the region.

Speaker:

  • Richard Krent Director for Development, Qiddiya, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
14:35Chairman closing remarks and end of conference day one

Day 2 - 29th September

TIMECONFERENCE PROGRAM DAY 2
08:30 - 09:30Registration, refreshments, and networking
09:30 - 09:40Chairman’s welcome and opening remarks
09:40 – 10:00Opening keynote address

Session 3 – Modernising the region’s attractions and destinations

10:00 – 10:45Panel discussion 5 - Expanding and upgrading existing facilities and sites to increase their capacity and attractiveness to tourists

  • Upgrading existing projects to match the latest requirements and attract tourists
  • Exploring best practices and solutions to prevent downtime during expansion and maintenance work
  • Digitalising attractions and destinations to achieve smart destination goal for a better visitor experience using solutions such as online bookings, digital payment solutions, internal logistics, park information systems, digital access…etc.

Panelist:

  • Osama Khlawee AVP Tourism Sites and Destination Development, Ministry of Tourism, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Oliver Baxter Director Tourism, Leisure Experiences, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Sarah Warden Head of Retail, Museum of the Future, United Arab Emirates
10:45 – 11:00Presentation - Converting temporary facilities into permanent entertainment zone

  • Implementing the right strategy to converting temporary facilities into permanent attractions to create additional touristic destinations
  • Transforming temporary facilities into a permanent source of revenue
  • Capitalizing on these facilities to create permanent employment opportunities and increase the quality of life

Speaker:

  • John Sullivan Regional Director, The Big Picture, United Kingdom
11:00 – 11:10Technology innovation session 4

This session will highlight latest technologies in the development of attractions and destinations. The session consists of 10-minute presentation from an expert in the industry who will provide insights and case studies on the successful application of a variety of advanced technology and innovations.

11:10 – 11:25Presentation – Understanding the role of travel agencies in driving attendance to the region’s destinations

  • Discussing the importance of travel agencies in the promotion of destinations development
  • Looking at their roles in driving the country’s tourism economy
  • Exploring their presence as the middleman in the development and flourishment of new attractions and cultural destinations
  • Analysing the reliability of travel agencies in advising and diverting traffic towards country’s important attractions that fetches rise in revenue

Speaker:

  • Mohammed Almohammed Board Member - Saudi Tour Guide Association, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
11:25 – 11:55Networking and coffee break
11:55 – 12:10Presentation – Enhancing visitor experience in the region’s destinations

  • Stimulating maximum senses of visitors for a richer visitor experience
  • Catering visitor needs like safety, security, accessibility, connectedness, and many others with technology innovations
  • Making visitors feel more welcome by fine-tuning the destinations offerings
  • Digitalising destinations to achieve smart destination goal for a better visitor experience like online bookings, digital payment solutions, internal logistics, park information systems, digital access, and others
12:10 – 12:25Presentation – Role of eco-tourism in sustainable development

  • Contributing to the conservation of natural flora and fauna in the urban environment
  • Encouraging travelers to help protect the environment by not disturbing or harming natural resources
  • Improving the well-being of the locals and their quality of life by responsible travelling
  • Designing and constructing and infrastructure that is in harmony with the environment

Speaker:

  • Patrick Duffy Director, Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
12:25 – 12:35Technology innovation session 5

This session will highlight latest technologies in the development of attractions and destinations. The session consists of 10-minute presentation from an expert in the industry who will provide insights and case studies on the successful application of a variety of advanced technology and innovations.

Session 4 - Innovation and next-gen destinations

12:35 – 12:50Presentation – Smart destinations: A way forward to the future

  • Planning and executing technology-based infrastructure to connect visitors at every point of their journey with ICT
  • Accelerating information exchange to provide accessibility to the visitors from across the world
  • Enhancing sustainability by using technology innovations
  • Collecting data to analyze and interpret future tourism trends

Speaker:

  • Chris Flynn Executive Chairman and Founder, The World Tourism Association for Culture and Heritage, Sydney
12:50 – 13:05Project showcase
This session will discuss the upcoming smart destinations projects in the region by experts and project heads from across the region.

Speaker:

  • Jorge Pinto Culture Planning and Development Director, Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
13:05 – 13:50Closing panel – Future of next-gen attractions and destination

  • Exploring the future of next-generation virtual technologies like VR, simultaneous localisation, and mapping apps, metaverse, bitcoins, NFT’s and others
  • Role of social virtual community
  • Developing infrastructure with faster and efficient technologies
  • Introducing a new line of technology travel “Remote tourism” at the ease of your fingertip
  • Digitalized live entertainment that can gain interest for the young population
  • Gaining popularity with digital tours as a tool for sustainable travel and next gen service

Panelist:

  • Abdulrahman Alqudaib Advisor, General Entertainment Authority (GEA), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Richard Krent Director for Development, Qiddiya, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Ziad Al Halbi Director for New Destinations Development, Meraas Holding United Arab Emirates
13:50 – 14:00Chairman closing remarks and end of conference

Why Get Involved

Get in front of your target market

Get access to key authorities and project owners involved with ongoing and upcoming destinations and attractions projects in the region and get insight into their plans to invest in new solutions and products and spot opportunities.

Gain project insights

Get first-hand details on timelines and requirements of current projects from across the region and spot opportunities.

Raise your brand awareness

Opportunity to position your brand as one of the leading companies in the sector to help stakeholders and project owners achieve their targets.

Increase your competitiveness

Learn about the challenges faced by the region’s key organizations and identify how you can provide them with customized solutions to help them overcome them

Generate strong leads

Learn about solution requirements of key project managers and developers and influence decision makers and stand a chance of being shortlisted for upcoming projects.

Opportunities to participate

We only work with the best to offer the best to our customers. Great Minds Conferences are a great platform to get your message across to your target audience. Whether you are looking to educate your target market, launch a new product or increase your branding and visibility, our team will work closely with you to develop a package that suits your requirements and helps you stand out as a Great Mind in this space.

Sponsorship opportunities

We have a diverse range of sponsorship opportunities available; a member of the sponsorship team will work with you to create a bespoke package to suit your businesses objectives.

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Sponsors

Official Roller Coaster PartnerMartin & Vleminckx Ltd

Strategic PartnerHolovis

Supporting Partners

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Media Partners

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TRAV Talk

Travel TV News

Travel Business Asia & Middle East

Travel World China

Holiday Guide Magazine

The AfriTraveller

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