GFIA Case Study

Introduction

Abu Dhabi’s recent unveiling of a 1-billion-AED agricultural technology initiative has furthered the transformation of the emirate into a bustling hub for those interested in agricultural innovation. Conferences and symposiums replete with investors, sponsors, scientists, exhibitors, and more are taking place with increasing frequency in Abu Dhabi, which is seen as a gateway to the MENA region. In tandem with the emirate’s status as a growing locus for such events, facilities such as the prominent Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) has been meeting the need for appropriate venues. Recently, in continuance of a longstanding partnership, ADNEC once again hosted the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA), which is the only exhibition and conference in the world dedicated to sustainable “AgTech” across all types of food production.

Objective

GFIA is the world’s largest showcase of sustainable agricultural innovations. 2019 was the 6th iteration of this exhibition and conference, for which ADNEC was again selected as host. Cumulatively, there were 7,331 attendees and 310 exhibiting companies hailing from 120 countries, which constitutes a doubling of size and attendance since the exhibition’s inception in 2014.

Execution

ADNEC allocated 9,854 gross sqm for exhibition space, providing ample room for all presentations. State-of-the-art conference facilities were used for a number of keynote addresses, panel debates, innovation presentations, and Q&A sessions. Other events included the Artificial Intelligence for Agriculture Summit, the Innovations Theatre and Awards, partner workshops, farmers’ and scientists’ programmes and an expo from ApiArab, which was co-located with GFIA. ApiArab is the largest dedicated honey production event in the Middle East, and in its second year attracted 1,200 attendees from nearly 30 countries. Over 80 innovations were showcased.

During GFIA itself, upwards of 50 innovations were presented. Much of the GFIA’s focus was on artificial intelligence and indoor farming. Representatives from Strategic Partner and Sponsor, the Agriculture and Food Safety Authority were in attendance and Abu Dhabi’s Minister of State for Food Security, Mariam Al Muheiri, opened the show.

Beyond providing a venue for GFIA, ADNEC also assisted in publicising the event throughout the MENA region. ADNEC deployed an html to its extensive database, launched an SMS campaign, furnished indoor and outdoor digital screens, engaged in social media coverage, and promoted the event on the “What’s On” page of its website.

Results

ADNEC was perfectly equipped to accommodate such a sizeable, diverse group due to the facility’s large capacity, 360 event solutions thanks to in-house award winning caterer, Capital Hospitality and production company, ADNEC Services. Excellent transport links to Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports, located  20 and 90 minutes away respectively, as well as six onsite hotels offering c.2,000 hotel rooms made ADNEC the ideal one-stop venue choice.

David Stradling, the Event Director for GFIA, characterised the experience with ADNEC as follows: “ADNEC is the most beautiful show facility that I have encountered. We always find that we get superb support from the ADNEC team,” adding that the team is “very internationally-minded.” He also praised ADNEC for being able to provide everything from catering to security in-house. 

ADNEC’s promotion efforts produced record-breaking results, as GFIA 2019 was the best attended agricultural event in the entire MENA region.

GFIA Marketing Director Hannah Hardy had this to say about the support received: “As a growing event, ADNEC has been wonderful partners in supporting that growth.  They also were supportive in assisting with the promotion of the event in the region—the highlights video the ADNEC team produced was amazing and we have shared that everywhere. We found the resources invaluable.”

Likewise, attendees were impressed with ADNEC’s facilities, with 98% of exhibitors ranking the venue as “excellent.” Bookings for next year’s exhibition and conference have already begun. By the end of the exhibition and conference, participants had sent over 1,000 meeting requests via the online networking portal, and over 1,000 business connections had been made.