After being deemed host of the World Expo in 2020—the first spot in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia to be host—Dubai has hit the ground running prepping for the six-month-long mega event expected to draw 25 million visitors. And while the Dubai World Expo isn’t for another five years, it’s the one event on everyone’s mind in this Emirate as the city builds new facilities and hotels, aiming to show, as the expo theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” insinuates, a sustainable future with Dubai being seen as a beacon for the region and a hub for youth and innovation.
While this may seem like a lofty feat, the city has already become an easy place to do business, especially for the MICE industry, thanks to the accessibility, transportation and connectivity.
“We’re blessed having really good infrastructure in Dubai; not only easy access getting here, but also easy getting around the city. We have new facilities coming onto the market all the time, and the Dubai World Trade Centre can accommodate large events and trade shows,” says Steen Jakobsen, director of Dubai Business Events.
The Dubai World Trade Centre currently has over 1 million sf of event space and attracts over 2.2 million visitors per year with over 500 events and 100 mega-exhibitions and conferences. It also serves as a one-stop shop for the MICE market with its own onsite event production services team, hospitality services and facilities management taking care of all of the details.
“Between now and 2016 we’ll have another 10- to 15,000 hotel rooms, and in the longer term, when we host the expo in 2020, there will be a lot of additional facilities that will be used mainly after the expo for large exhibitions, and the existing World Trade Centre will be converted into a more dedicated conference center, which will work pretty well since it’s closely connected to all of the hotels in the downtown area,” Jakobsen says.
A majority of the new hotel rooms will be in the three- and four-star segment, so Dubai has a diversity of accommodation options to offer groups, with four-star properties particularly appealing to larger conventions and meetings.
Currently reigning as the no. 1 business events destination in the region—competing mainly with large cities in Europe and Asia like Singapore, London and Hong Kong—Dubai can accommodate large groups from around the world offering numerous venue options; 89,000 hotel rooms divided between city, beach and mountains; an impressive infrastructure network with a metro connecting the airport and convention center; and year-round sunshine, so no issue with rain ruining a stunning beachside event.
“Dubai is one of the most remarkable destinations for business events. We’re strategically located between East and West, and we’re easily accessible from all corners of the world,” Jakobsen says. “Our infrastructure, meeting venues and hotels are all state-of-the-art, and the high service level throughout the city makes organizing meetings and conferences an easy task. Dubai is safe, clean, welcoming and provides high value for money.”
Earlier this year, Dubai hosted a Nu Skin China incentive group of 14,500 Chinese visitors, chartering two Emirates planes; booking 200 flights on 18 other Emirates aircraft; staying in 39,000 hotel rooms spread throughout 40 hotels; and spending five days in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Just one example of the type of incentive groups Dubai is prepared—and able—to host, going so far as to branding chartered Emirates planes with the company’s logo and tailoring customer service and in-flight entertainment for the passengers on board. And thanks to the size of Emirates’ fleet, network and mix of nationalities working on board, the airline is flexible enough to accommodate large groups from around the world, so your wish is really their command.
“The speed by which things happen is incredible,” Jakobsen said in press conference. “From the moment an idea is being born to actual implementation is very short.”
If the speed at which the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, was built is any indication—created in just six short years—the next five years leading to World Expo 2020 should hold a world of change for the MICE market in Dubai.-Lane Nieset