Addis Ababa sits at 7,500 feet above sea level, and its Holy Trinity Cathedral is the final resting place of Emperor Haile Selassie. As Ethiopia's capital and by far its largest city, Addis Ababa is known for its multi-lingualism, with as many as 75 languages spoken in active service (which makes Addis Ababa MICE venues amazingly cosmopolitan.) It might be for this, and for the fact that Ethiopia is the only African nation not to have been a European colony, that Addis Ababa is home to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The commission stages many of the continent's political, peace-keeping and economic development discussions.
The main transport hub is Bole International Airport (ADD). Ethiopian Airlines flies to Toronto and Washington, DC. Bole, four miles southeast of the city center, also has service on KLM via Amsterdam, on Turkish via Istanbul and on Emirates via Dubia.
Chief among large MICE venues in Addis Ababa is the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa (UNCC-AA), next door to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, which has two large exhibition halls for 800 and 475 persons, respectively, four smaller halls hosting 115 persons each and 13 meeting rooms. Due to all those languages mentioned above, it also does well in translation services.
MICE hotel venues in Addis Ababa include the 372-room Hilton Addis Ababa, where the meeting space includes a ballroom able to host 700 persons; the 293-room Sheraton Addis, which has nine meeting rooms able to cater to up to 1,500 persons; the 152-room InterContinental Addis, which has two meeting rooms; the 142-room Jupiter International, which has meeting space for up to 200 persons, and the 96-room Dreamliner Hotel, where the meeting space includes the Jan Tekel Hall for up to 400 persons.
Ethiopian's unique culture should be celebrated in events here. Choose between the National Museum of Ethiopia, which has a re-creation of the skeleton of Lucy, the oldest human ancestor to be as yet unearthed; or the Addis Ababa University, which includes a museum, a former royal palace and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library. Other selections could be EiABC, the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development, which includes the K. Schlesier Lecture Hall; and the Hager Fikir Theater (Africa's oldest theater, dating to 1935), which has the ability to host private functions amidst the regular play schedule. One more option is the Netsa Art Village: established in 2008 by graduates of the Addis Ababa University School of Fine Arts and Design, it is a museum of contemporary art with lots of outside function space that can host outdoor dinners in tents and erect tents and other temporary structures in a setting that feels a long way from the bustle of Addis Ababa.
One thing to know about Ethiopian cuisine: The national staple is injera, a soft crepe-like bread that is picked up and dipped in or used to scoop up communally dished meat and vegetable dishes. The whole idea is that everyone shares from the same large pan. Four of the best restaurants specializing in this and able to host groups are Habesha, which is the Arabic word for Ethiopia and whence the former Western name for the country, Abyssinia, derives; Yod Abyssinia, which has oodles of space and puts on dance and music; Bata, which also is full of Ethiopian design and has a pretty garden; and, probably the best but difficult to reach along back streets, Agelgil, which is where quite often the city's movers and shakers will be. A Western choice is the Jacaranda at the Hilton Addis Ababa.