VAT Refund to Boost MICE Industry in the UAE

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The UAE Cabinet’s decision to refund value-added tax (VAT) to the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice) industry will make the country – especially Dubai – retain its competitive edge regionally and help position it as a bigger player on the global level as the refund money will be pumped back into the industry for marketing, generating more economic activity, say industry executives and tax experts.

In addition, the refund will continue to attract more foreign companies and business tourists to Mice events which take place in the UAE all round the year.

Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri, the group CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec), said the decision to refund VAT will significantly enhance the competitiveness of the industry and increase the capacity to attract niche global events, exhibitions and conferences.

It will trim costs incurred by organisers and international associations while also enabling local associations to submit more bids to host major international conferences and congresses.

“I am pleased to invite all public and private sector firms, partners, event organisers and specialised associations to make optimum use of such initiatives that will consolidate their presence in the UAE by strengthening the existing exhibitions and conferences portfolio and attracting and conducting new events,” Al Dhaheri said.

Satish Khanna, general manager, Al Fajer Information and Services, hailed it as a landmark decision for the industry, which will help the emirates to grow in terms of market size and come closer to other global Mice destinations such as Las Vegas.

He pointed out that exhibition companies will have more money at their disposal as a result of this government initiative and it will be distributed towards marketing the events and generate more activity in the country.

“Whatever we save will go into marketing and this will enhance the size of exhibitions and be beneficial for the Mice industry. Dubai is on the right track to be a global Mice destination. The UAE’s will attract more Mice players to the country,” Khanna said.

Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, said that VAT hasn’t noticeably affected their business. “Both in terms of exhibitors and our suppliers, we have not faced any undue hindrance in our business functions. So, with the recent announcement of the refund facility, I am sure the outcome will prove to be extremely positive and welcomed by the market.”