UFI Congress Draws Record Attendance in Abu Dhabi; Chen Named UFI President

November 7, 2012

The 79th Annual UFI Congress wrapped up Nov. 8 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre in Abu Dhabi with a record number of 475 attendees from 55 countries who gathered to pinpoint where there were areas of growth in the exhibition industry.

UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, which represents exhibition organizers, venue managers and partners of the industry, has seen its own organization grow in leaps and bounds recently as it surpassed the 600-member organization mark and now numbers 612 from 85 countries in its global membership.

Since last year’s UFI Congress in Valencia, UFI has welcomed an additional 36 new member organizations, including Italy-based Fiera di Vicenza, Egypt-based Pyramids International Group, Iran-based Samee Paad Novin Company and Moscow-based Crocus Expo IEC.

Besides new exhibition organisers, UFI also added new venues such as the China National Convention Centre in Beijing and Anhembi Parque in S?o Paolo, as well as new associations that include the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority and the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau, to name a few.

“With remarkable growth like this, even in such challenging economic times, it’s clear that UFI provides recognized, value-adding assistance and support to our members,” said Paul Woodward, UFI managing director.

UFI research points to continued growth in China, with the country accounting for 46 percent of the global increase in indoor available exhibition space with 69 percent of this increase related to new venue construction.

In step with the ever-expanding industry in China, UFI members elected their first president from the country - Chen Xianjin of the China Association of Exhibition Centres.

“Our association’s history reflects the development of the world exhibition industry and it is also the global economic development history in miniature,” Chen said.

He added, “Today, China represents 15 percent of UFI’s total membership and there are many stories about international exhibition companies coming to China and succeeding. It’s my intention to use the advantage of my origin from Asia to better connect Asian members with those from Europe and other continents.”

The UFI 2012-2013 presidential trio of Chen Xianjin, president, Renaud Hamaide (Comexposium, France), incoming president and Arie Brienen (Jaarbeurs Holding, NL), past president, took office immediately following the close of the UFI 79th Congress.

Next year’s annual meeting will be held Nov. 13-16 in Seoul, South Korea.

“I have a wish that a year from now when we celebrate the 80th anniversary of UFI Congress in Korea, I can hear our members say that thanks to the support and help from UFI, and with the valuable information and services it provides, they successfully overcame negative factors emerging from the complicated and fast-changing situation of the global economy and achieved new progress,” Chen said.

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