CONFERENCES, exhibitions and symposiums in Singapore are set to take on a new dimension when the first phase of the S$1.7 billion (HK$8.16 billion) Suntec city opens late next year. The first phase will include the new Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre (SICEC). The opening of SICEC is expected to further enhance Singapore's reputation as the leading meeting, convention and exhibition centre in Asia. It is already one of the world's top 10 convention cities. Even before its opening, SICEC has been booked for a number of major events, including the Singapore 1995 World Stamp Exhibition. This will be the first time Singapore has hosted the exhibition and it is expected to attract more than 10,000 visitors both locally and from abroad. Colin Teo, general manager (North Asia) of the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board, said: ''Singapore is already a popular venue for many major conventions and exhibitions. ''Delegates value the ease of getting around and the many attractions to visit outside the meeting proper - not to mention the culinary delights and shopping for which Singapore is famous.'' SICEC will offer 100,000 gross square metres of convention and exhibition space. It has the largest column-free convention hall in Singapore and this will seat up to 12,000 delegates theatre-style. There is also a 12,000-sq m exhibition hall, 26 meeting rooms, a 600-seat auditorium and a ballroom. Suntec city, which will be situated within SICEC,is one of the largest privately owned commercial developments in Singapore. It is owned and developed by a group of well-known Hong Kong businessmen, including Li Ka-shing, Sir Run Run Shaw, Cheng Yu-tong, Lee Shau-kee, Frank Tan Sri-tsao, Chou Wen-hsien and Chow Chung-kai. Suntec city will be situated for delegates to take advantage of Singapore's many shopping and eating opportunities. It is a few minutes' walk from Raffles Hotel and the Mass Rapid Transit railway at Raffles city and there is a direct expressway link to Changi International Airport. Marina Square, with its three first-class hotels and shopping mall, is just across the road. Between them, Raffles city and Marina Square offer more than 4,000 hotel rooms in the vicinity of Suntec city and two new hotels across Temasek Boulevard will provide another 1,000 rooms. The multi-pyramidal roof of metal and glazed panels in the SICEC is a spectacular feature of the development and a prominent landmark in the city. The Fountain Terrace at Suntec city is another dramatic feature. The fountain will be one of the most elaborate in the region and the terrace will be surrounded by a ring of restaurants serving Asian and Western cuisine.