The UK is the number one European source market for visitors to Dubai, and third internationally after Saudi Arabia and India, accounting for over 750,000 guests to the emirate. These trends are also noticeable in the events industry with Dubai seeing a marked increase in the volume of UK enquiries across all sectors of the business events market, including meetings, product launches, association congresses and incentives.
Dubai Business Events, the official convention bureau, has adopted a proactive strategy in meeting and engaging with key international and UK meetings, incentive and association planners, according to Director Steen Jakobsen, who says that DBE attends over 100 events internationally every year, and in Europe and the UK has organised numerous high profile sales missions.
Another aspect of the bureau’s strategy is to bring key events industry decision-makers to Dubai to experience its offer first-hand.
In September, the bureau launched the inaugural mega fam, welcoming over 100 event and corporate planners, as well as business events media to Dubai.
Esther Clark, Logistics Manager at Jack Morton Worldwide, attended the fam telling CN it was invaluable in allowing her to experience all sides of Dubai with a focus on the human aspect of the city.
“Our hosts strove to show us the passion of Dubai and the people that inhabit it; a passion that has translated into remarkable achievements,” she says.
“The city is proud of its success and so it should be – the venues, hotels and experiences it offers are ever growing and expanding. But not just for high end clients, also for more mid-scale markets, such as the increase of four-star hotels being built and refurbished.
“Dubai recognises the range of requirements for events and, driven by its desire to be the best of the best, is determined to make those provisions and provide a real opportunity for agencies to propose Dubai as a feasible yet unique option for clients,” Clark adds.
While the year-round sunshine is perhaps one of the biggest USP’s that attracts UK planners to consider Dubai, its conference facilities, hotel infrastructure and incentive activities, are all considerable drawcards.
Rebecca White, Logistics Manager at UK events agency Line Up, which has hosted three events in Dubai in the last two years, considers the benefits of hosting an event there to be the competitive rates due to large bedroom stock, the vast accessibility from all corners of the world, and the fact that it is regarded as a glamorous location.
“At the right time of year (late September – early May), the weather is a real bonus. Dubai also boasts a huge range of five-star hotel options and is great for incentive trips as it is so varied; you can go from the desert, to a ski slope, to the beach all in one day, not to mention visiting the tallest building in the world,” she says.
While the weather in Dubai is one of its major attractions, especially for us Brits, at the wrong time it can cause problems.
“You simply cannot hold any outdoor events in the summer months as it is far too hot,” White says, while also noting that the strict visa regulations can cause some issues when hosting an event in Dubai.
“On one event we had visas declined which meant a whole team from North West Africa were unable to attend the event. Visas are only processed seven days before that person’s entry into the country so it can be a bit of a last minute process.”
And for event entertainment, it is necessary to apply for permission from the government (DTCM Permissions). For one of Line Up’s events, permission was initially declined for a band member, and while this was resolved in the nick of time, it is perhaps a gentle reminder of the need to always have a plan B in place, especially if you are taking your event across the globe.
This was first published in the November issue of CN. Any comments? Email Zoe Vernor