History RAI Association

Since 1893

History of the RAI Association

RAI Vereniging, in full 'the Nederlandsche Vereniging de Rijwiel en Automobiel Industrie', was founded by bicycle manufacturers on 17 December 1893. Back then it was called 'De Rijwiel-Industrie' (RI).

From RI to RAI

Founding of RAI Association

The RI wanted to counter the proliferation of bicycle exhibitions in different towns in the Netherlands and thus reduce the cost of participating in all those events. Therefore, they decided to organise a bicycle exhibition themselves, an annual, nationwide event. The first bicycle exhibition took place in 1895 at the Paleis voor Volksvlijt in Amsterdam.

Because the production of bicycles and automobiles was done by the same technical hobbyists and entrepreneurs back then, it was only natural that the name 'Rijwiel-Industrie' was soon expanded to include the A of 'automobile'. In 1900, the RI became the RAI. This was followed by 11 bicycle, motorcycle, and automobile exhibitions until World War I.

Own exhibition area

"Old RAI"

Due to a lack of space at the Paleis voor Volksvlijt, the RAI Association relocated to another exhibition center. It opened its own building on Amsterdam's Ferdinand Bolstraat in 1922. What was intended to be temporary housing for five years became semi-permanent housing for nearly forty years, and is still popularly known as the 'Old RAI'. The old location is now occupied by an old people's/care home of the same name.

Expansions were required as early as 1925 and 1928, to a total area of 13,000 m2. The annual RAI exhibition drew a record number of exhibitors and attendees. Other industries' specialized trade fairs took off after World War II. Because of the high demand for stand space, the RAI Association decided in 1950 to hold separate exhibitions for passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Other parties split off, and events in the 1950s quickly made the RAI Association building too small.

Construction RAI Amsterdam

Samenwerking met de gemeente Amsterdam

Because the Association could no longer afford the investments for a new, large exhibition complex, RAI Vereniging sought a partnership with the City of Amsterdam. The latter was enthusiastic to take part because of the positive economic implications for the region.

Thus, in 1956, the first formal public-private partnership was formed. The City of Amsterdam and RAI Vereniging formed a limited partnership to fund the operation of the new RAI, which was separated from RAI Vereniging. The limited partnership has since given way to a construction in which RAI Vereniging owns 75% of the shares and the city of Amsterdam owns 25%.

Read the whole history of RAI Amsterdam (in NL)

125th anniversary

Royally decorated

In January 2019, RAI Association received the title 'Royal'. The trade association was 125 years old at the time and has a long track record of leadership as an advocate for the mobility industry and the founder of RAI Amsterdam.

amtrium rai vereniging

Sustainable mobility

RAI Association anno 2023

Today, RAI Vereniging is a thriving trade association with some 700 members in the broad playing field of sustainable mobility. In short, RAI Vereniging represents everything with wheels on and across Dutch roads.