Kigali hosts UFI MEA Conference, in Africa for the first time

The UFI Middle East & Africa (MEA) Conference brought together industry leaders, professionals, and stakeholders in Rwanda, 15-17 April. Hosted by the Rwanda Convention Bureau at the Kigali Convention Centre, the conference explored opportunities, challenges, and innovations shaping the region.
Over the course of three days, attendees from 15+ countries had the opportunity to network, exchange knowledge, and collaborate with colleagues from MEA and beyond. Sessions tackled the industry’s most pressing topics, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), emerging market growth, industry trends, and sustainability.
Thanking the Rwanda Convention Bureau for hosting the conference, Naji El Haddad, UFI regional director MEA said the event had set a new benchmark for industry gatherings in the region. “We are immensely thankful to our sponsors, partners, and the diverse group of attendees, whose collaboration and insights turned this conference into a unique experience. Rwanda's warmth and hospitality have left an unforgettable mark on us all,” El Haddad said.

Janet Karemera, CEO of Rwanda Convention Bureau, added: “Hosting the UFI MEA Conference for the first time in Africa is a testament to Rwanda's commitment and the continent at large to establish its presence in the global exhibition sector landscape. We were privileged to learn from peers about how vast the possibilities are to expand our portfolio as a destination with the right investment and support from industry stakeholders.”
The conference was also an opportunity for the UFI Middle East & Africa Chapter to convene. El Haddad outlined forthcoming plans for the Chapter in 2024, including Global Exhibitions Day on 5 June, and initiatives in education and research. The subsequent chapter meeting is scheduled to occur in Cologne, Germany, during the 91st UFI Global Congress.
Social activities around the event included post-conference tours immersed participants in the host city’s rich culture and history, showcasing Kigali as a dynamic and emerging hub for exhibitions and business events.

All conference sessions will be made available to UFI members and conference participants in the coming days as on-demand videos.
As the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, UFI organises annual regional conferences in the Middle East & Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Americas, and Europe, as well as the UFI Global Congress.