Abu Dhabi has launched a new fund aimed at further increasing corporate events and incentive travel in the emirate, as the UAE capital seeks to expand business tourism.

The fund will leverage public-private partnerships to boost business-to-business events, providing financial support and incentives to event organisers, agencies and companies to host their meetings in the emirate, the Abu Dhabi Media Office said in a statement on Monday.

Abu Dhabi Convention and Exhibition Bureau (ADCEB), part of the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), signed an initial agreement with Adnec Group, owner and operator of Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, to jointly form the fund.

The partnership is “a tremendous step in further solidifying our position as a leading global destination for business events of all kinds”, said Saleh Al Geziry, director general of the tourism sector at DCT Abu Dhabi.

“Together we can create the ultimate destination package that showcases the best of the emirate and attracts ever greater numbers of large-scale and high-profile events to Abu Dhabi.”

The emirate has increased efforts to attract global business events that gather top investors, entrepreneurs, policymakers, company executives and start-ups.

Abu Dhabi will host the Annual Investment Meeting next month as it focuses on attracting more foreign direct investment and diversifying its economy away from oil. It will also host the UN Conference on Trade and Development’s eighth World Investment Forum in October.

Abu Dhabi’s meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) industry is “growing very fast” on the back of government policies, as well as the availability of good infrastructure for hosting business events, Mubarak Al Shamsi, director of ADCEB at DCT Abu Dhabi, told The National in September last year.

“We have a 10-year strategy that focuses on growing and positioning Abu Dhabi as a Mice international hub,” he said at the time.

The new joint fund is aimed at organisers of international corporate meetings and events who are interested in holding their events at Adnec.

“This comes as part of our efforts to strengthen the business tourism in Abu Dhabi and the UAE, and attract more companies to choose Abu Dhabi as an ideal destination for hosting any meetings, conferences, exhibitions, or events,” Humaid Al Dhaheri, managing director and group chief executive of Adnec Group, said.

For events planned between May 1, 2023 and December 31, 2024, applicants can submit their inquiry or request for proposal to either ADCEB or Adnec Group for eligibility of support towards their events through the joint fund, according to the statement.

ADCEB’s existing initiatives that target the growth of the Mice sector include the Advantage Abu Dhabi Meetings & Incentives 2.0, an upgraded programme that stimulates Mice activities in the region.

“The ADCEB and Adnec Group joint fund is an added tool for international and domestic agencies to promote Abu Dhabi and fills a gap in Advantage Abu Dhabi’s support for groups of over 500 delegates,” the statement said.

Passenger traffic across Abu Dhabi’s five airports exceeded annual forecasts and tripled in 2022 from the previous year, amid a broad recovery in leisure and business travel from the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 15.9 million passengers used Abu Dhabi International, Al Ain International, Al Bateen Executive, Delma Island and Sir Bani Yas Island airports last year, up 202 per cent from the 5.26 million passengers in 2021, according to Abu Dhabi Airports.

“We are working towards readiness to accommodate even greater passenger traffic in 2023, which, we anticipate, as higher numbers of international visitors come to the UAE for key events, including the coming Cop28 [climate conference],” Jamal Al Dhaheri, managing director and chief executive of Abu Dhabi Airports, said in February.