Alliance speakers at Dubai Association Conference
JANUARY 2, 2018

Gregg H. Talley, President of the Alliance

Nina Freysen - Pretorius and Martin Sirk

“Building a Community” – The Middle East Region is Given a Warm Welcome at the Dubai Association Conference

Last December saw the inaugural Dubai Association Conference unfold. Organized under the theme “Building a Community,” the 2-day conference was attended by more than 300 delegates from 32 countries. There are more and more associations emerging in the Middle East, and this event aimed to bring together association executives, government representatives, university faculties and students, as well as professionals interested in creating associations.

Among the attendees were World PCO Alliance President President Gregg Talley and Alliance partner Nina Freysen-Pretorius, who were also speakers. Both were excited to witness the overall initiative to embrace the association model and recognize its potential for the Emirates and the entire Middle East region.

“It is obvious that with the hosting of this conference and the government support, the Middle East is very aware and attuned to the opportunities that associations and hosting meetings present to the regional economy and the community,” says Ms. Freysen-Pretorius, who is CEO of South Africa-based The Conference Company.

Mr. Talley, who participated in the panel on “Careers in Associations,” which addressed the opportunity for employment and career growth/fulfillment in the not-for profit-sector, was struck by the diverse attendees. “For me, the best thing was seeing the range of individuals in the room—government, academia, not-for-profit and business sectors, and the young people from the Emirates who are passionately engaged and ready to lead this sector.”

A new generation of individuals committed to the continued growth of associations is a critical need that Ms. Freysen-Pretorius says cannot be undermined. “It may well be easy to construct a building and have the vision to set up important and necessary infrastructure but investing in youth is what represents everyone’s future.”

Alliance partner Kylee Haines, Director of Congress Solutions International based in the United Arab Emirates, believes that the conference was a great initiative of the Dubai Association Centre for attracting associations from around the world to Dubai to gain and share knowledge, form relationships, explore expansion opportunities in the region and experience the destination first hand through attending the evening events and post event tours.

“Over the past ten years of living in the UAE, I have observed the growth towards close collaboration between various Dubai government entities and international associations to strengthen the local knowledge economy. Dubai is investing heavily to diversify its economy and develop itself as a global hub of innovation, bearing testament to Dubai’s efforts directed towards building a better future.”

Clearly, Dubai is making its mark, and for Mr. Talley, the inclusion of the Middle East will have a major impact on associations around the world as well as the global not-for-profit community. “We know the power of associations and civil society. Now imagine what that can accomplish if we truly are linked globally —on both the destination side and the not-for-profit side, working collaboratively to help achieve key developmental objectives.”


India is another emerging country where more and more associations are sprouting up. Alliance partner Monimita Sarkar shared her observations in a recent issue of MeetMe magazine. Read more here.