What the Future of Events Looks Like in Abu Dhabi

It’s mid-2020 and we’re still at the start of a new decade. The coronavirus pandemic has meant that this decade is off to an unusual and unpleasant start. Abu Dhabi’s events have been enormously impacted, with dozens of shows, sporting events and festivals canceled or postponed.

However, it is often said that after every storm, there’s a rainbow. This is looking particularly true with the Abu Dhabi events scene. There’s still a huge amount of promise, and there’s every reason to think that this decade will be Abu Dhabi’s best decade yet.

Bigger and better events than ever before

The last decade brought some amazing events to Abu Dhabi. Hands up if you got tickets for any of the Grand Prix races, or were at the UFC Fight Night Abu Dhabi,  or if you saw The Rolling Stones, The Killers, or Coldplay live on stage. Naming these events just touches on what was an incredible decade for live shows and sporting festivals.

It’s worth remembering that Abu Dhabi hasn’t been on the world stage all that long. However, in the last few years, it’s made its way into many major sporting schedules and concert tours. And these are the reasons why the best is yet to come.

The state-of-the-art Etihad Arena

The year 2020 sees the opening of the new Etihad Arena: the largest multi-purpose indoor arena in the Middle East. It promises a world-class event space and incredible hospitality. Etihad Arena will join the region’s largest outdoor venue, Du Arena, as a landmark entertainment venue. This enormous 25,000-capacity, state-of-the-art venue will further enhance Abu Dhabi’s position as a global entertainment destination.

Etihad Arena will host some incredible shows and concerts over the next decade and attract household-name artists. However, it will bring more than just that. The arena is nestled in what is already a vibrant neighborhood on Yas Island. It will also become a popular venue for a wide variety of events, including corporate functions and community festivals.

The growth and transformation of existing events

Abu Dhabi already has an exciting calendar of events. Highlights include the Grand Prix weekend, The Abu Dhabi Festival, and the world-renowned New Year celebrations. Over the next decade, we’ll see these events continue to flourish. Each year, organizers will challenge themselves to produce even bigger and better events than the previous ones.

We can expect to see the increasing use of tech to help improve these events. Big data and AI will help improve user experience and identify user-led trends. This will help event organizers in Abu Dhabi plan even better future events. Event experiences will become increasingly personalized.

And through footfall data collected by wearable items such as wristbands, the whole in-event experience can improve by providing real-time visitor information, like wait times.

Growth and investment in new events

Other events are set to grow, too. Abu Dhabi’s festivals continue to grow in popularity. Abu Dhabi Shopping Festival, the Mother of Nation festival of local culture, and the International Dance Festival are examples of delightful annual events.

The festivals listed above all showcase the best that Abu Dhabi has to offer. The Emirate seeks to further its gains in popularity as a global tourist destination. Therefore, expect lots of investment and growth in these types of events, as well as new ideas. The Abu Dhabi government 2030 vision seeks to encourage events companies to create must-visit events for both tourists and residents. Exciting plans are afoot.

Virtual events

COVID-19 has brought virtual events to the forefront of the events industry. Already a trend beforehand, the interest in virtual events has been accelerated and they are now a mainstream option for staging an event.

Professional conferences, trade shows and conventions can all be organized online.

Virtual events offer everything that a location-based event does, without the need to travel. With such busy lives, many of us are sure to find this appealing. The eco-friendly ethos of virtual events is also to be applauded.

What might you expect to see or do when logging into a virtual event on your phone or laptop? Through an app, you’ll have access to a variety of features like presentations, demonstrations, seminars, video-conferencing, even one-to-one live chat. Corporate and sponsored areas can still feature, as can the retail experience.

Those worried about the lack of interaction and networking need not be; virtual events can provide that highly important element and allow you to forge new connections. Guests can interact through social media style channels and by playing app-based games together.

Live streaming of events

Attending a major event like a big name concert can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Adding in travel to an exciting destination like Abu Dhabi will increase the magic. However, there are lots of reasons why this experience is not an option for people: health, travel restrictions, and budget, for example.

The biggest events are also enormously popular and tickets can sell out in hours. Streaming the event live can solve these problems for people and open up the event to thousands, even millions more interested parties. And, as we have already seen, in situations like the current pandemic, there are sometimes no alternative options to online streaming.

Social media and entertainment apps can offer viewers the opportunity to share the moment and interact with other fans in real time. These connections mean that the fun of a collective experience is not necessarily lost.

While most people would agree that watching an event on a screen at home cannot compare to being at an event in person, it is certainly better than not being able to access the event at all. It also increases the possible revenue greatly through either advertising or pay-per-view ticket sales. With the right marketing strategy, broadcasting can actually improve ticket sales to the live event. Therefore, in the future, expect to see live events increasingly screened online.

With advancements in tech, continued investment and innovation, and exciting developments already in the pipeline, the next decade looks like it’s going to provide Abu Dhabi residents and visitors with some amazing entertainment experiences. Whether you are a sports, music or culture fan, there’s bound to be plenty for you, both online and offline.