The Global Association for the Attractions (IAAPA) Middle East Trade Summit 2024 has concluded on Yas Island. The event gathered more than 400 attendees from around the world, 45 exhibitors, and featured 27 international speakers.

Organised in collaboration with Miral, the summit hosted two days of educational sessions. Industry leaders explored innovative strategies in destination development and management, operational efficiency, and guest satisfaction to foster continued growth across the region’s attractions and theme parks industry.

The summit opened with a welcome keynote address by Mohamed Abdalla Al Zaabi, Group CEO of Miral. Additional speakers included Scott O’Neil, CEO at Merlin Entertainments; Ahmad Hussain, Chief Operating Officer at Dubai Holding Entertainment; and Don Potts, President for Qiddiya Investment Company; with many more industry leaders from Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), The National Aquarium Abu Dhabi - Al Qana, Atlantis Resorts, Majid Al Futtaim, Saudi Entertainment Ventures (SEVEN), amongst others.

A series of interactive sessions and workshops discussed trending topics like artificial intelligence (AI), digital transformation, sustainability and innovative attractions. A selection of guided facility tours welcomed trade visitors to Yas Island’s theme parks and attractions, enabling them to gain insights into the operations and creative processes behind the attractions.

During the summit, IAAPA announced it will be expanding its presence in the region with a local office in Dubai and appointing Ahmed Zakaria as the Director of Operations for the Middle East. Zakaria arrives with more than 20 years of experience in the exhibitions and event management industry across the MENA region.

Peter van der Schans, IAAPA EMEA Executive Director and Vice President, said: "I am excited to have Ahmed join the IAAPA team and look forward to exploring new opportunities in the Middle East by having a local office available to interact with members and industry partners. Our education and trade events have grown significantly in recent years, and this is evident even today as we host the 2024 Middle East Trade Summit in Abu Dhabi with 45 exhibitors and 400 attendees."