Emily Bratcher is an associate editor at Associations Now in Washington, DC.
Associations expanding to Gulf cities like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia will find their knowledge, certifications, and standards in high demand.
Associations expanding to the Gulf region will find a sizzling market
Cranes are working overtime in Persian Gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia to help construct new hospitals, schools, and other property development projects. But even as these countries are rapidly building up their infrastructure, they’re also in desperate need of guidance in governing their growth, says Ajay Bhojwani, managing director of MCI UAE, based in Dubai.
“They don’t have time to build standards,” Bhojwani says. “They’re saying, ‘Let’s just get the best standards.’”
That’s why the Middle East’s desert sands could be an oasis for associations looking to expand internationally. Associations can provide the standards, meetings, publications, and certifications that Middle East industry professionals are hunting for right now.
“As they move forward, they are looking to benchmark the world’s best economies, whether it’s New York, whether it’s London, whether it’s Singapore—they want to start benchmarking them and competing with them,” Bhojwani says.
Associations can step in and provide those benchmarks, as well as best practices to help businesses in the Gulf reach these touchstones. Plus, Bhojwani says, professionals in the region have significant buying power, creating opportunity for associations that develop products and services tailored to the needs of the Middle Eastern market.
Certificate programs, which provide learning and career opportunities, are a good place for associations to start. Bhojwani notes that there is a lot of flow in the Middle Eastern job market, with professionals regularly transitioning in and out of jobs.
“You need certifications to show that you’re better than the rest,” Bhojwani says.
In a nutshell, that’s what associations do: Help their members become better than others in their industry— at home and perhaps in the Middle East too.
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "The Middle East is Hot."]