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Mobile World Congress to stay in Barcelona: Arse

Did you catch the news? Mobile World Congress, the industry’s largest event, is staying in Barcelona for at least the next five years or so.

The GSMA did put the whole thing out to bid so there was a distinct possibility of the event being moved somewhere else — cities such as Munich, Milan and Paris were in the running.

I’d have liked to have seen a city move. I do like Barcelona — but I don’t like the thieves and vagabonds. You really are a massive walking cashpoint for the city’s highly adept thieves. An MWC badge guarantees you’re carrying at least one device worth €500. The reality is that most backpacks coming out of the Fira are carrying:

– An expensive camera
– An expensive laptop
– At least one, if not 2-3 phones (samples/demo units)

And of course passports, credit cards and so on.

From my perspective, Barcelona’s city officials do absolutely NOTHING about this. I think that’s a fair statement to make.

I was in Baltimore recently for an unrelated event. A big, big travel event. It was an inaugural one and the city of Baltimore was keen to make a good impression. As a result there were police everywhere — visible, helpful and highly reassuring for all attendees, especially if you’ve been watching too many episodes of The Wire.

Why this doesn’t happen in Barcelona, I really do not know. Perhaps it does — just, I have never observed it.

I certainly don’t feel welcome.

Oh, the GSMA do a good job themselves. They’re masters at running the event nowadays and the area surrounding the Fira de Barcelona is always pleasant.

But go anywhere else and, especially beyond 10pm, it’s a little bit.. edgy.

Anyway, it’s not just about the venue for MWC, no. The GSMA as daubed Barcelona as the Mobile World Capital which will apparently see a whole host of things going on throughout the years.

Will this mean that the city of Barcelona will organise it’s mobile operators effectively so that I can buy a PAYG data sim effectively? Probably not.

Still. I’m looking forward to next year’s event already. Yes the thieves are ultra annoying, but generally speaking, it’s always a nice city.

Here’s the announcement from the GSMA:

After an 18-month search, the GSMA today announced that Barcelona has been selected as the Mobile World Capital from 2012 to 2018. As the Mobile World Capital, Barcelona will be the home of the mobile industry’s must-attend event, the GSMA Mobile World Congress, and will also develop a range of other programmes and activities that will span the entire year and will benefit not only the citizens of Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain, but also the worldwide mobile industry.

“We are thrilled to announce that Barcelona will be the Mobile World Capital for the next seven years,” said John Hoffman, CEO, GSMA Ltd. “All of the cities who competed for this title presented extremely innovative and compelling bids, but in the end, Barcelona truly demonstrated that it deserves the title of the Mobile World Capital, with its combination of outstanding exhibition and conference facilities, its transportation and hospitality infrastructure, its commitment to expanding the reach of mobility throughout Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain, and the strong support of the public and private sectors. This is an exciting time for Barcelona and for the mobile industry as a whole.”

“Becoming the Mobile World Capital was a strategic bid for Barcelona, and consolidates our leadership as a benchmark city for new technologies,” said Xavier Trias, Mayor of Barcelona. “This will give a significant boost to the image of our city brand associated with a sector, that of mobile communications, which will experience strong growth in the next few years. Barcelona is reaping the rewards of the serious, professional work of different institutions with the involvement of many of the city’s companies and entities. Now, Barcelona will be the center of a new model of international event linked to economic growth, industrial development and the creation of new jobs vital to the future of our economy.”

Bringing the Mobile World Capital Vision to Life
The cornerstone of the Mobile World Capital is the Mobile World Congress, a four-day event which in 2011 attracted more than 60,000 attendees from 200 countries, including 3,000 CEOs, government delegations from 131 countries and more than 2,900 media representatives. Starting in 2013, the Mobile World Congress will be held at the cutting-edge venue Fira de Barcelona Gran Via. The dates for the 2013 Mobile World Congress are 25-28 February 2013.

Beyond the Mobile World Congress, the Mobile World Capital also features two additional elements: the Mobile World Centre and the Mobile World Festival. The Mobile World Centre will comprise permanent and temporary exhibitions which meld culture and technological innovation, facilities for the development and incubation of mobile solutions, and retail and hospitality venues. The Mobile World Festival, which is targeted to the general public, will incorporate a range of activities including sporting events, music and art festivals, film awards, applications and technology fairs and more.

According to estimates from the Barcelona Candidacy, the Mobile World Capital would bring, in the first year alone, more than 300 million euro, along with thousands of part-time jobs. As some of the initiatives have a mid-term reach and will grow steadily during their implementation, the economic impact is expected to increase progressively and, based on Barcelona’s assessments, could reach 3.5 billion euro over the seven years of the Mobile World Capital.

“I would like commend and thank all of the finalist cities – Barcelona, Milan, Munich and Paris – for their excellent proposals and the huge amount of energy and creativity that was put into them,” concluded Hoffman. “We look forward to working in partnership with the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce, the Government of Catalonia, the City of Barcelona, Fira de Barcelona and the Barcelona Tourism Bureau in bringing the vision of the Mobile World Capital to life.”

The selection of the Mobile World Capital was based on many criteria and took into consideration all aspects of what a city can offer. The GSMA undertook a thorough and complex evaluation process, starting with 30 cities, narrowing it down to six cities, reducing it to a short list of four finalists, and then finally, selecting Barcelona as the Mobile World Capital.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

7 replies on “Mobile World Congress to stay in Barcelona: Arse”

Well we are lucky they did not move it to Paris. As a Parisian I can tell you it would have sucked big time, for locals and for delegates. No taxi, skyrocketing hotel prices, bad weather, dysfunctional local transports, and probably some insecurity too around the exhibition. What is not known is how much the city of Barcelona gave away to the GSMA: increased commission on hotel bookings during the event, maybe even on restaurant bills ?

I would have liked to see it move to Munich – the infrastructure would be efficient.
London would have also been a decent possibility – bit boring for those of us already living here I suppose.
My personal preference would have been Dubai 🙂

Dubai would probably be a lot more convenient for the rest of the planet as
it’s now a really good hub city. And I’d have enjoyed the sun…!

Word to the wise, in terms of hotel/room bookings, book a yacht in the harbour, cheaper, cleaner, nearer and a helluva lot more fun 🙂 We did it this year and was a great success……

I did have to stop a skallywag from relieving our CTO of his laptop after getting off a train.  Personal Security isn’t exactly in my job description, but luckily I am built for it 😉 

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