It is no surprise that an industry so heavily dependent on social gatherings took the biggest hit with the COVID-19 outbreak.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused an immense dent in the events industry, and the UAE’s events sector was no stranger to this. In order to put a halt in the spread of the virus, the UAE started its quarantining measures in late March 2020. Although quarantining measures were absolutely necessary, this decision brought about huge negative consequences for the events industry.
A survey conducted by the International Live Events Association (ILEA) crisis committee found that Dubai’s events industry lost up to AED 5.5bn due to the pandemic and its effects. This huge number comes as no shock since numerous events had been cancelled or postponed across the country. Some cancelled/postponed events included Dubai World Cup 2020, Abu Dhabi Festival, Taste of Dubai, AKS Colour Carnival, International Triathlon Union Abu Dhabi 2020, K-pop Super Concert, and Dubai International Boat Show.
The big hit taken by the events industry revealed that this vital sector was heavily focused on physical events and unprepared for unexpected occurrences. However, with months into the pandemic, more event organizers have taken the initial step to delve into the world of virtual events. Virtual events are interactive online events where users across the globe can connect with one another from the safety of their homes.
At present, with strict regulations in place, physical events have started to take place again. However, more digital and virtual elements are being incorporated in such events. Event organizers have started to see the value in virtual events and are hosting more physical events with simultaneous virtual events, forming hybrid events. For instance, Girish Anil Bhat, Managing Director of Done Events stated, “If used strategically, this (virtual events) can lead to growth in audience engagement. Those who find the physical locations and venues to be extremely crowded can now get some respite, as the same events can also be enjoyed while sitting on your couch at home, and not just for people in Dubai but for fans from anywhere around the world.” (Source).
At Outreal XR, we have developed our own virtual events platform, HoloFair, which allows event organizers to host real-life events in the virtual world. Our platform is suitable for all kinds of events, such as exhibitions, trade shows, ceremonies, or any custom event. HoloFair is an interactive 3D events platform where users can connect, network and trade in the virtual world.