Muscat, Oct 10 – The Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC) turned one-year-old on Tuesday and has hosted 101 events so far. At present, the OCEC — which is hosting four exhibitions — is in its first phase of development. The centre’s five exhibition halls cover an area of more than 22,000 square metres.
“It has been a great year and most of the exhibitions are coming back next year. Already 58 exhibitions have been booked for next year. We have been raising not just OCEC’s profile but of Oman in general,” Trevor McCartney, General Manager of OCEC, told the Observer.
“Once the convention centre opens in December, then we will be able to attract international events,” he said. The convention centre is expected to host two international events in December, which coincides with the new season.
The Airport Council International’s (ACI) Airport Exchange event will be followed by the UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) conference.
Airport Exchange event will bring the world’s airport community to the Gulf for the largest event in the ACI’s calendar, just ahead of the anticipated opening of the new Muscat International Airport.
This will be followed by the 2nd UNWTO/Unesco World Conference on Tourism and Culture, which places Oman’s rich heritage in spotlight. A total of 65 ministers from around the globe have confirmed their attendance.
OCEC works closely with Ministry of Tourism, Omran, Oman Convention Bureau, hotels, Oman Air, OAMC, hotels, destination management companies and professional conference organisers.
“It is a partnership to bring international events to Oman,” said the General Manager. Currently, OCEC is bidding for 65 events (50 international, 15 national).
The masterpiece — the theatre — whose roof is currently taking shape, can cater to 3,200 people and is expected to be ready by mid- to late 2018.
OCEC will also have a 450-seat auditorium, two ballrooms for banquets for up to 1,200 guests, 20 meeting rooms that can accommodate 360 delegates, hospitality suites and a VIP pavilion.
Meanwhile, there is great excitement around Madinat Al Irfan (a model can be seen at the OCEC), which is being developed by Omran. Crowne Plaza is expected to be opened on November 15. Linked to the convention centre is the JW Marriott, which is expected to be inaugurated by 2018.
Seven million square metres of space is expected to be developed into retail areas, business park, residential areas and leisure facilities, according to McCartney.
Once everything is operation, it could create 4,000 to 6,000 jobs. “We are a small team, but the conventions will bring in people and that means hotel rooms, restaurants and souvenirs. We have the World Cancer Congress that is coming up in October 2020. Some of the conferences can bring about thousands of delegates. Think about the print and design needs, exhibition services, audio & visual, IT services, transportation, gala dinners that are part of major events. The possibilities and opportunities are tremendous,” says McCartney.