DUBAI, a rapidly evolving destination known for skyscrapers, history, modern architecture and technology, has continued its strong hold on the thriving business events sector. Dubai Business Events (DBE) reported a 29% increase in business events, delegates and incentive groups from the same period last year.

“With one-third of the world’s population living within a four-hour flight, and two-thirds within eight hours, Dubai’s ease of access for global markets has proven to be one of the key reasons why this city has become a popular host destination for business meetings and events,” said Steen Jakobsen, assistant vice president, Dubai Business Events and City Operations.

“Dubai’s high level of safety and security, its infrastructural investment and development, as well as the city’s range of hotels, venues and suppliers, are also among the many factors that draw planners to the emirate,” he said.

During the first half of 2018, DBE reported 125 successful bids to host business events, to which Jakobsen said: “we are building on our momentum from the first half of the year and gearing up to host a number of immersive study missions to Dubai for meetings and conference planners from around the world”.

Conferences, meetings and incentive programs secured in the first six months of the year, including from bids submitted in previous years, are set to attract over 65,000 delegates from around the world, resulting in an economic impact of approximately AED500 million (A$189 million).

Jakobsen went on to say that because of DBE’s emphasis on innovation and future technology, there are several developments and initiatives in the pipeline. These include “the use of blockchain technology in government departments, the growth of automated transportation across the city and an ambitious space program”.

“In addition to bringing growth to Dubai’s economy, they also provide profound opportunities for knowledge exchange through business events,” he said.

The accommodation sector has also played an important role in underpinning the city’s growth as a business and tourism destination.

“There are now more than 111,000 rooms across the city, with inventory forecast to hit 132,000 by the end of 2019. The diversity of the hospitality offering means visitors and planners can choose from a wide range of options, from international luxury brands such as JW Marriott, Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton, to home-grown operators such as Jumeirah and Rove Hotels,” said Jakobsen.

Other venues for large sized events and conferences include Dubai World Trade Centre, the region’s largest dedicated events space; and Dubai Opera, with beachside spaces overlooking the Arabian Gulf and desert tents.

Jakobsen added that Dubai’s key sectors which include renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space, allow planners to tap into them “to enhance their events and to create long-lasting legacies”.

Dubai’s vast range of accommodation offerings gives event planners a variety to choose from, with many now seeking “more diversity in hotel options across multiple price points,” said Jakobsen.

“While there will always be a need for luxury and traditional business hotels, increasingly planners and delegates are looking for more affordable options and inventory in the lifestyle segment. This is aligned with Dubai’s strategy, which has been to encourage more development of hotels in the three- and four-star segments,” Jakobsen added.

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