Dear colleagues, dear friends,

The sun is shining in Dubai today as I write this. You may wonder why I seem to be pointing out the obvious, but indeed, that was different just a short while back, as we faced unprecedented rainfall here.

These downpours we experienced in the GCC in April sent literal shockwaves all the way to Kigali, as they overlapped with our MEA Conference there. They were more than a talking point at this great UFI meeting and cast an unfortunate shadow over some proceedings as some tried to rush back to the GCC. But what struck me at this regional conference was the closeness of our community and the friendly atmosphere. I believe this is in equal parts due to our excellent hosts (thank you!) and the way the UFI team structured and produced the event (thank you as well!). Face time really was quality time! Add to that a good programme, insightful speakers, and the possibility to experience and explore Rwanda and its future potential to host exhibitions – and you see why our regional conferences are such a high priority for many of us again every time!

Unfortunately, my trip back to Dubai became sort of an odyssey as the region dealt with the flooding. These also impacted show schedules and attendance of those shows that were held (like ours that week). It reminded me—once again—of the words of Monica Lee-Müller when she was our president, who said (let me paraphrase) that climate change will impact the way we do business.

Looking beyond “my” home region, natural disasters certainly are taking a regular toll on our industry, even away from the headlines – think Taiwan, where – luckily – the recent earthquake didn’t cause structural damage to the existing exhibition venues, but nonetheless caused necessary repair works in parallel to the ongoing business.

As you know, sustainability and decarbonisation work are a focus of UFI’s work. I encourage you to access and use the resources available there and through the Net Zero Carbon Events initiative – and to connect with activities in the regions. For instance, our new North America chapter just ran a digital event on implementation and the business opportunities around it, and plans are underway for a 2nd edition of last year’s “Sustainable Events Summit” together with other US-based partners.

In addition, we will highlight how our industry supports sustainable business practices for Global Exhibitions Day next month. And we will also make time to drive the issue forward at our next regional conference in Zurich. There is a lot to do for the sake of our customers, our industry, and last but not least, our people.


Geoff Dickinson, UFI President