Association leaders and thought leaders from around the world have gathered in Dubai for the third edition of the Dubai Association Conference, with city leaders urging them to make the most of the opportunity to develop their operations and take advantage of the platform Dubai can provide trade and professional associations for growth and expanded reach. The one-day event took place at Dubai Exhibition Centre, located within the Expo 2020 Dubai site as the final month of the World’s Greatest Show approaches.
Under the theme of ‘Associations and The New World: Resilience & Reinvention’, the conference is providing a platform for exploring how associations can adapt amid not just the aftermath and direct impact of the global pandemic, but shifting dynamics among the professions and industries they serve. It was once again organised under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council.
The event kicked off with a session featuring the founders of the Dubai Association Centre (DAC): His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism and His Excellency Hamad Buamim, President & CEO, Dubai Chambers. As driving forces behind both DAC and Dubai’s wider economy and business landscape, they provided their perspectives on the roles associations can play in global society and as a driver of positive change.
His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, said: “The impact of the global pandemic has been felt across almost every industry, profession and field of expertise over the past two years, and associations have experienced this on two fronts: on the one hand supporting and guiding their members through the pandemic; and at the same time facing their own challenges of membership retention, delivering events and education, and sustaining revenue sources.
“Dubai’s strong response since the outset of the pandemic, guided by the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, has seen the city solidify its status as an economic and knowledge hub. And as associations explore how they can continue to remain relevant and support their members through professional development, networking, the sharing of best practices and engagement in policymaking, Dubai is committed to providing a platform from which they can thrive not just here and in the wider region, but on an international scale.”
His Excellency Hamad Buamim, President & CEO, Dubai Chambers, said: “Associations are a major contributor to economic growth, while they also play a crucial role in fostering innovation and building knowledge-based economies. Yet, these organisations require a conducive business environment where they can connect and collaborate with key public and private sector stakeholders.”
H.E. Buamim described Dubai as an ideal hub for associations with plans to expand their global reach, as the emirate offers a wide array of competitive advantages such as world-class infrastructure, an investor-friendly regulatory landscape and a maturing innovation eco-system where the latest technologies are being adopted. He revealed that nine new associations were licensed by the Dubai Association Centre in 2021, and added that the DAC Conference and Expo 2020 Dubai have started a global conversation about the growing significance of associations to driving sustainable growth through regional and international cooperation.
With more than 200 attendees, the Dubai Association Conference once again featured a strong lineup of international and local speakers, including: Michelle I. Mason, President and CEO of the American Society of Association Executives; Marjorie Anderson, Founder, Community By Association; Jason Thompson, Professional Thinker, Copywriter and Speaker; Marc Mekki, Digital Innovator and UX & Design Thinking Expert; and Bo Kruger, Owner, Moving Minds.
Leaders of global associations were also among the expert speakers such as : Alessandro Cortese, CEO, European Society for Radiotherapy & Oncology; Diana Steinbach, Vice President, Corporate Development, ISSA - The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association; and Magdalena Nowicka Mook, CEO, International Coaching Federation. Meanwhile, Martin Sirk, International Advisor, Global Association Hubs Partnership supported DAC in designing the conference programme.
Michelle I. Mason, President and CEO of the American Society of Association Executives, said: “Associations have always had the power to drive transformation in their respective fields and professions, and to achieve this it has been necessary to stay at the forefront of innovation, collaborative thinking and knowledge development. In the wake of the pandemic, associations are becoming even more forward-thinking and entrepreneurial in embracing their role as change agents. Opportunities to convene an international audience of association leaders, including the just-concluded Dubai Association Conference, will help accelerate the leadership role associations play in today’s changing world.”
The conference was the flagship event of the Dubai Association Centre (DAC), which was established in 2014 to support and license regional and international associations in setting up an office or chapter in Dubai. DAC opened its state-of-the-art offices in One Central, DWTC in December 2019, providing a collaborative environment for registered associations.
Previous editions of the Dubai Association Conference have explored key themes and priorities for the sector, attracting experts from around the world and building momentum behind the city’s status as an association hub. The inaugural event in 2017 successfully established the conference under the theme ‘Building a Community’ while the second edition in 2019 built a compelling programme around the theme ‘Driving change: The societal impact of associations’.