Presidents Message 2021

Paul Berger
Paul BergerJoint Chapter President 2021
Started as The International Special Events Society (ISES) in the US in 1987, the Trade Association officially changed its name to the International Live Events Association (ILEA) in May 2016.ILEA is a global community of thousands of creative event professionals whose skills, expertise and experience power some of the most recognized and respected live events around the world.

ILEA provides education and collaborative networking opportunities that achieve creative event experiences. ILEA’s worldwide membership has grown to involve over 5,000 members active in 35 countries throughout the world.

As a founding member of ILEA and an active participant since its inception in the Middle East in 2010, my responsibilities started as the VP of Events and Sponsorship to President-Elect. I officially took over the reins from Dan Bolton in January 2019 and hope to continue the fantastic work that he has started.  With a strong board of seasoned industry professionals behind me, together with the support of our members and the wider industry, I look forward to the great honor and responsibility of leading the association into Expo 2020 and beyond.

During my presidency, I will be focusing on going back to basics, ensuring that we reinforce the foundations of our organization for the future.  In addition to continuing to grow and strengthen our board and membership base, I have set myself three key objectives for the next 12 to 18 months:


I feel that Emiratization is key if we are to establish a stronger voice in this country and throughout the region.  It was never our intention to be an expat organization and I believe that we need additional Emirati and GCC national representation on the board and throughout the membership base in order to rectify this.

Create a Home for the Chapter:

I have felt for some time that it is crucial that we have a physical base that we, our members and our future members can use and benefit from.  I feel that this will provide the association with stability and will help to further cement our position in the marketplace, in addition to providing useful space for training, education, meetings, general information sharing, and networking.  To me, this will, in turn, demonstrate to the local government that we are a serious industry sector that has a role to play in the economy of this country and that there is a benefit to working closely with us going forward.

Improve Our Financial Health:

Finally, I would like to improve the financial state of the organization and feel that the generation of additional revenue is crucial to our survival.  Clearly, we are a non-profit organization, however, the more funds we generate, the more resources we have available to us to reinvest into training, education, events, health & safety, licensing, marketing & promotion.

In summary, in 18 months’ time at the end of my presidency, I would like to be able to look back and see that we have made a lasting difference to our industry, with measurable results that have had a positive impact for our members and their companies.  I hope also, that these results will have enabled the chapter to have grown, particularly as we welcome the largest event in the world, Expo 2020, to the country.

It is clear to me that we as an industry need to work collaboratively to achieve these goals and hope that I can count on the support of each of our members, as well as our board, to come together to move the industry forward.

A brief history of ILEA
Middle East Chapter

The International Live Events Association (ILEA) is the association for events industry professionals that are passionate about knowledge, networking and event creativity.

ILEA was founded in 1987 in the US to help event professionals share and improve their industry knowledge. For over 25 years ILEA has been a valued and trusted partner in the events industry.

ILEA provides a platform for the best practitioners in the creative events industry to connect and share ideas. Membership grants access to a global network of 7000 event professionals, monthly educational and networking events and a platform for professional promotion of yourself and company as well as a host of benefits that will enhance your companies brand, expand your business network, increase revenue and elevate your personal knowledge and performance.

The Middle East Chapter was formed in 2012 and continues to go from strength to strength through the passionate & dedicated enthusiasm of its president and board, all of whom operate on an entirely volunteer basis.

About ILEA
How did we get to where we are today?


Approached by ILEA UK/EMEA
Formation committee of 8 volunteers from UAE event industry



Business Group application filed with Dubai Chamber


30 companies become founding members



ILEA ME Board of seven (7) voted for by committed membership base
ILEA Business Group incorporation certificate issued
Adrian Bell officially becomes president and selects dedicated volunteer board
Bank account issues due to Central Bank’s new compliance requirements for professional societies, now overcome


First full year of formalised operations
Members rise to 50 +
A range of educational, motivational and social events are hosted
Groundwork put in place to facilitate lobbying and ensure industry wide procedures and practices are implemented



Health & Safety Task force is set up
New president Rebecca Wilson is elected, followed by board member re-shuffle and expansion of committees to allow for growth phase
Members rise to 75
Dubai Chamber agree to closer relations to allow for further close lobbying in line with member expectatio


Members rise to 85
Heath & Safety Guidelines are put in place in consultation with our members
ISES Middle East is re-branded to ILEA ME
May - Significant steps have been taken forward in strengthening the relationship with DTCM after a meeting this month and we expect improved communications and closer links with senior people within government



Approached by Dubai Chamber to register with Dubai Association Center (DAC)
ISES HQ announces the global name change to ILEA at ILEA Live, Austin Texas
2nd version of Health & Safety guidelines distributed


Launch of new website
Clarification of member benefits
Increased benefits
MOU signing with Dubai Economic Department



Dan Bolton President
New Chapter manager - Kholoud Ali
Winners of Dubai Quality Awards.


Paul Berger Presidency
For the very first time to have two Senior Emirati Board members onboard
Major improvements in finance
Membership growth
Introduction of ILEA Expert sessions
ILEA ME's 1st edition Industry Festive Ball
Industry partnerships and sponsors


The ILEA Mission

The Mission of ILEA ME Chapter is to advance and promote the events industry and its network of professionals across Middle East and beyond.

We Strive to:

  • Provide value to the membership through business-driven events and activities.
  • Acquire and disseminate useful knowledge and business information to members.
  • Acquire and disseminate useful knowledge and business information to members.
  • Cultivate high standards of business practices through conducting education and information workshops and providing other relevant information materials, with a focus on health and safety.
  • Uphold the integrity of the events profession to the public through our Principles of Professional Conduct and Ethics.
  • Work with, and where possible, advise Government and other organisations to adopt policies and practices that cultivate the optimum business and operating environments for the events industry and its practitioners.
  • Foster a spirit of cooperation and collaboration among members and other events professionals.
ILEA Principles & Ethics

Your special event is important - the last thing you want to worry about is the integrity of your special events professional. That's why all ILEA members subscribe to the ILEA Principles of Professional Conduct and ethics

Each member of ILEA shall agree to adhere to the following:

  • ​Promote and encourage the highest level of ethics within the profession of the special events industry while maintaining the highest standards of professional conduct.
  • ​Strive for excellence in all aspects of our profession by performing consistently at or above acceptable industry standards.
  • ​Use only legal and ethical means in all industry negotiations and activities.
  • ​Protect the public against fraud and unfair practices, and promote all practices which bring respect and credit to the profession.
  • ​Provide truthful and accurate information with respect to the performance of duties. Use a written contract clearly stating all charges, services, products, performance expectations and other essential information.
  • ​Maintain industry accepted standards of safety and sanitation.
  • ​Maintain adequate and appropriate insurance coverage for all business activities.
  • ​Commit to increase professional growth and knowledge, to attend educational programs and to personally contribute expertise to meetings and journals.
  • ​Strive to cooperate with colleagues, suppliers, employees, employers and all persons supervised, in order to provide the highest quality service at every level.
  • ​Subscribe to the ILEA Principles of Professional Conduct and Ethics, and abide by the ILEA Bylaws and policies.