Friday, March 28, 2008

May FUNWORLD Preview: IAAPA Middle East Safety Conference

In the May issue of FUNWORLD, look for coverage of IAAPA's first Middle East Safety Conference. As a preview, here are some thoughts on the event from John Henderson, IAAPA's vice president of education, training, and development.

On Feb. 24 I traveled to Dubai, UAE, with my colleagues Ana Elisa Benavent, V.P. of membership and marketing, and Randy Davis, V.P. of government relations, to host the first IAAPA Middle East Safety Conference. The day after we arrived in Dubai we were able to tour the area and saw the vast construction that is forming the new skyline for a city that was once flat desert land. That afternoon we viewed Wild Wadi Water Park and witnessed people enjoying themselves in the cool water—not a bad idea when you are in the heat of the desert!

The focal point of our visit, of course, was the Safety Conference that began with a welcome reception and dinner. We were pleased to have 92 people registered for the conference who represented 14 countries and 46 different companies.

The conference began the next day with a lineup of industry safety experts:

• Darrell Metzger, CEO Ruwaad Destinations and IAAPA First Vice Chair
• Randy Davis, Vice President of Government Relations, IAAPA
• Geoff Robson, Amusement Device Inspection Procedures Scheme
• Steve Blum, Sr. Vice President of Safety, Universal Parks Resorts and Resorts
• Peter Doyle, Sr. Vice President of Marine and Waterpark Atlantis Dubai, UAE
• Jim Seay, President, Premier Rides Inc.

Each of these speakers provided great information that was discussed during breaks and networking time to determine how it impacts what they are currently doing in the attractions industry.

Here are just a few key concepts I came away with:

• IAAPA provided a venue that allowed people from diverse backgrounds working in the same region to come together for the first time to discuss issues critical in the industry
• Safety standards are critical to the success of any operation and the participants were exposed to ASTM, EN, and TUV standards. The important issue stressed by all presenters was that no matter which you adopt it is fundamental that you study and implement safety standards for your success and the success of the industry.
• Dubai, the rest of the UAE, and the surrounding countries are eager to build a destination that people from around the world see as a safe destination for family fun.

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