Dubai has established a strong international reputation as a vibrant and diverse destination, offering quality hospitality, first-class infrastructure and a range of headline-grabbing attractions. Only a few short years ago, Dubai was a little-known destination off the Gulf coast, whereas today it stands as one of the most popular spots in the region. And while the city is well known for its luxury appeal, it also offers great value for those travelling on a budget.
A remarkable city
Perhaps the most important development, however, is the city’s newfound status as a global business hub – and it is in this department above all else that it has excelled. “Dubai as a destination for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) and sports events is growing rapidly as the infrastructure including transportation, hotels and other facilities are expanding along with increased standards of services delivered to our visitors and clients,” says Steen Jakobsen, Director of Dubai Business Events (DBE), the Official Convention Bureau. “With a population of two million and counting and more than 200-plus different nationalities, the city offers a strategic location midway between the Far East and Europe. The same distance from London as from Beijing, we are easily accessible from all of the major economic centres in Asia, Africa, Europe and Russia.”
The emirate’s exceptional infrastructure makes doing business in Dubai easy: passage into the city is expedited by Dubai International Airport (DXB), which is one of the busiest in the world in terms of international traffic, served by more than 125 airlines flying to 260 destinations across six continents. In addition, Dubai’s second international airport, Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC), opened in October 2013 and is set to increase the emirate’s global accessibility even further.
Dubai has established a strong international reputation as a vibrant and diverse destination
Within the city itself transport options abound. These include the Gulf region’s first-ever metro system, as well as fairly-priced taxis, water taxis, buses, chauffeured cars and the soon to be launched tram network. Sitting at the head of global developments in transport infrastructure, the continued adoption of smart technologies and the implementation of innovative city planning techniques mean that the transport network’s efficiency is second-to-none in the region. By encouraging the use of public transport, improving safety protocols and managing congestion, Dubai’s transportation system has overcome a number of challenges over the course of the emirate’s expansion.
In terms of accommodation, there are currently more than 89,000 hotel rooms within the city, ranging from five-star luxury to pocket-friendly mid-range options. Estimates show that 15,000-25,000 hotel rooms will be added to the market by 2016, further increasing the options available to international visitors. On average, 17 hotels have been opened every year since 1999 and, with capacity tipped to reach 160,000 by 2020, the boom shows no sign of slowing in the years ahead. The country as a whole is already among the most productive in terms of new hotel openings, and the speed at which visitor numbers, and so occupancy rates, are soaring means that it is unlikely that the expansion will grind to a halt any time soon. As such, an abundance of new tourism opportunities along with an influx of business travellers visiting the emirate means that the Dubai Tourism Vision target of 20 million tourists per year is looming large on the horizon.
For business events, Dubai’s many hotels also offer a plethora of flexible facilities – whether that’s simply a meeting room for 10 people or a convention centre for tens of thousands. And of course, this is all supported by the extensive facilities offered at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) – the host of over 50 percent of all exhibitions and conference events in the whole of the Middle East region.
Supporting local businesses
Dubai also has a hospitable business climate of its own, offering enterprises of all sizes a number of opportunities. Whether it be its free trade zones, various tax benefits, or its budding business environment, Dubai has recently become home to a huge number of aspiring multinational names looking for an accommodating place in which to do business.
Dubai’s services sector contributes considerably to the city’s GDP, and is its fastest growing industry. Firms, particularly in hospitality, real estate and business services, are flooding into Dubai seeking to capitalise and expand on the favourable conditions that already exist for businesses much like their own. Underpinned by explosive growth in visitor numbers and bolstered by continued infrastructural improvements, businesses in Dubai have license to feel positive about the city’s future. And, provided that those in the city abide by a responsible business culture and take pains to realise sustainable and responsible growth, Dubai’s standing on the world stage looks set to only improve.
Dubai also has a hospitable business climate of its own, offering enterprises of all sizes a number of opportunities
Backed up by a professional service and a ‘can do’ attitude, business event organisers appreciate the opportunities on offer in the city – which goes some way to explaining why Dubai has been named among the top three most vibrant cities in the world in the latest City Momentum Index, released by Jones Lang LaSalle in January 2014.
Dubai is also one of the world’s safest and fastest growing tourist destinations. For delegates it offers an array of truly memorable experiences with itineraries that will capture the very essence of Arabia, such as desert safaris, dune bashing, falconry and camel riding; while adrenaline junkies can go sky-diving over Palm Jumeirah, dive with sharks at the Dubai Aquarium or go skiing at the world’s largest indoor snow park. VIP groups, on the other hand, can take a seaplane or helicopter ride over the city and indulge in afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab.
The DBE’s mission is to further develop Dubai’s share of the MICE and special events market, while at the same time maximising the city’s major economic opportunities. “Our main goal is to establish the emirate as a leading business tourism destination,” adds Jakobsen. “From selecting the perfect convention and exhibition venue to choosing the ideal hotel, helping you with airline bookings to arranging local guides and ambassadors, our experienced staff will take care of all the details so you can be confident that your event will be an outstanding success.”
The possibilities in Dubai are endless – nowhere else can you wrap up your meetings and within minutes be spending time at the beach, skiing on the indoor slopes, or testing your limits while dune bashing in a 4×4 in the desert. By providing quality services, introducing key industry and government contacts, and delivering a world-class visitor experience, DBE can play an important role in establishing the emirate as a leading business travel and tourism destination.