Prevue January/February 2015 - (Page 60)

Dubai Sophistication and beach-to-desert diversity draw North American planners [ON LOCATION] LANE NIESET T hirty years ago, the second-largest city in the United Arab Emirates was a small fishing village, with a skyline that was just starting to sprout from the desert sands. Dubai is now the fifth most-visited city in the world for international guests, featuring everything from world-class convention centers, accommodations, shopping and dining to beach and desert attractions, just a short drive away from each other. In addition to having a wide range of activities at travelers' fingertips, the city is also in a prime geographical position for connecting the East and the West. As His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, explains it, "Dubai is a place where cultures meet." Two-thirds of the world's population lives within an eight-hour flight from Dubai, and Emirates connects six continents with a single stop in Dubai. As for North American travelers, they are just 12 to 14 hours from Dubai, with nine direct flights from U.S. destinations. This number continues to grow as Emirates adds new hubs to its network each year-30 in the last three years alone. The airline offers the option to brand and charter Emirates planes, and can even change the nationality of the staff and amenities on board depending on a group's needs. Steen Jakobsen, director of Dubai Business Events reports growing interest from North American planners. "I think it's being driven by how much more awareness there is now about what Dubai has to offer," he says. For one, it's an easy place to get around. The Dubai Metro runs across the city and connects the Dubai International Airport with the Dubai World Trade Centre, which houses the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. The metro will expand and connect to the new Al Maktoum International Airport in time for Expo 2020. ELEVATED MEETINGS Jakobsen says U.S. planners are keen on traditional incentive options, such as taking them to the desert, shopping and dining in world-class restaurants, as well as activities such as sky diving, scuba diving, or sea plane rides. "Dubai has it all," he says. Apart from that, he is seeing an interest in experiential/cultural activities, such as visiting historic sites like the old town or the Sheikh Mohammad Centre for Cultural Understanding. On our first full day in Dubai, we explored the historic side of the city, visiting the Al Fahidi District in Bur Dubai. Walking through one of the oldest neighborhoods in town next to the Dubai Creek, groups can learn about how the locals lived. A guided tour with the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding covers topics from the Muslim religion to the traditional manner of dress. It can be followed by lunch at the Jumeirah Mosque, where attendees sit on cushions on the floor in a restored wind tower house, sampling a traditional Emirati meal. 60 | prevue magazine 60-63_Dubai.indd 60 1/8/15 7:01 AM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue January/February 2015

Planner’s Pick: New Orleans
Fresh Meets: Hilton
Bureau Buzz: Raleigh
Good Business: Monaco
Sea Shores: Royal Caribbean International
The Era of Personalization
On Location: Barcelo Bavaro
On Location: Caesars Entertainment
On Location: Grand Geneva
On Location: Guadalajara

Prevue January/February 2015