According to Lynda Baum, North Amer-
ican representative for Dubai-based DMC
Gulf Dunes, “The trend is more visibility
and increased interest from North America.
Dubai is typically on the same wish list as
Australia or Africa when clients are looking
at long-haul, exotic locales. North Ameri-
can clients are quite comfortable here, with
the familiarity of the transportation system,
hotels and multitude of activities geared
toward the luxury traveler.”
Gulf Dunes also operates in Abu Dhabi,
which boasts one of the world’s lowest
crime rates, according to the Abu Dhabi
Convention Bureau, a division of the Abu
Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. Abu
Dhabi recently hosted IBTM Arabia and
will host the Special Olympics in 2019,
expected to attract 10,000 participants.
Groups at both desert locales can make use
of the UAE’s natural assets as well as myriad extravagant indoor cultural venues.
According to Baum, Dubai’s Armani
Pavilion, part of Armani Hotel Dubai,
is a popular group venue for up to 600
overlooking The Dubai Fountain, with
Burj Khalifa as the backdrop. The Clubhouse Terrace at the Dubai Creek Golf &
Yacht Club can host 800, while for smaller
groups, the Majlis Gallery, located in the
historic Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, can host 100.
JA Al Sahra Desert Resort & Equestrian
Centre offers desert riding and corporate
teambuilding as well as the spectacular
Al Sahra Amphitheatre. Groups can also
arrange for a desert safari experience that
allows attendees to sample local Arabian
cuisine, try a camel ride, henna tattoo their
hands, shop a craft souk, ride the sand
dunes and stargaze, among other activities.
Also popular, according to Baum, is the
Music Hall at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray resort,
located on Dubai-owned Palm Jumeirah,
the world’s largest manmade island.
“Jumeirah offers groups a variety of
exceptional destinations for venues that
provide a sense of place, that boast unbe-
lievable character and energy of the local
culture,” said Tahir Ciyanci, Jumeirah’s
cluster director of group sales. “Jumeirah
Hotels and Resorts is renowned for the
ability to impress and surprise guests.”
Options include Magnolia-Jumeriah Al
Qasr at Madinat Jumeirah, a concealed
waterfront locale with a private abra, or
water taxi, station offering space for up to
300 guests. The Terrace at iconic hotel Burj
Al Arab can host receptions and is home
to Scape Restaurant & Bar, two pools and a
beach area. The Executive Pool Terrace at
Jumeirah Beach Hotel can accommodate
up to 200 guests.
“Dubai also has the new theme park
called Dubai Parks & Resorts, which has a
few new event venues with highly versatile
space,” Baum said. “Qasr Al Sultan is a fan-
tastic new Arabian-themed venue/restau-
rant, and the Dubai Opera, which opened
in September 2016, is also proving to be a
highlight for many programs.”
The Dubai Opera debuted as a 2,000-
seat, multi-format theater and is central to
The Opera District, a new arts and lifestyle
Abu Dhabi boasts unspoiled desert and
dunes, pristine coastline, island getaways,
rugged mountain scenery, lush oases
and wildlife. Groups can arrange everything from a cultural visit to Sheikh Zayed
Mosque to a trip to a camel market or
heritage village, or host events at the Palace
Terrace located at Emirates Palace hotel.
For scenic tours, groups can charter seaplanes with Seawings, which offers flights
over Abu Dhabi, or charter tours with The
Yellow Boats for views of the Abu Dhabi
skyline. Other options include yacht cruises, helicopter rides, teambuilding outings
at the Al Forsan International Sports Resort
or racing laps at Yas Marina Circuit, home
to the annual Formula 1 Etihad Airways
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Its Luna Lounge is
open to groups.
Groups can also arrange to visit the Al
Ain Dairy Farm with its camel herd and
meet its local “camel whisperer,” or the
Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, which treats
around 11,200 falcons annually.
One of Abu Dhabi’s most anticipated
attractions is the Saadiyat Cultural District,
on Saadiyat Island just off the main coast.
The five museums set to open in the coming years are Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi,
Performing Arts Centre and Maritime Museum. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be the
largest Guggenheim in the world—about
12 times larger than Frank Lloyd Wright’s
Guggenheim in New York.
“Abu Dhabi will have a plethora of new
venues when the main attractions on
Saadiyat Island open up,” Baum said. “We
all anticipate them opening toward 2018.”
On the meetings front, the main venues
include the Dubai International Conven-
tion and Exhibition Centre (DICEC), part
of the Dubai World Trade Centre (DW TC)
complex, the Abu Dhabi National Exhi-
bition Centre and the Al Ain Convention
Centre in Abu Dhabi.
New on the scene in Dubai is multiuse
development Al Habtoor City, which features three Starwood hotels: The St. Regis
Dubai, with 182 guest rooms and 52 suites;
the 356-room W Dubai–Al Habtoor City; and
the 1,004-room Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor
City. Four Seasons Hotel Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) debuted last year.
Hotels slated for this year include the
Royal Atlantis Resort; Dubai’s first Viceroy,
on Palm Jumeirah; and Venu, a leisure
concept from the Jumeirah Group. The
property will be set on manmade Blue-waters Island, with Ain Dubai, the world’s
largest observation wheel, at its core.
Abu Dhabi last year debuted the Four
Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah
Island and recently the Marriott Hotel Al
Forsan. Other hotels in the works are a
Grand Hyatt and W Abu Dhabi.
JUMEIRAH BEACH HOTEL, DUBAI
YAS MARINA CIRCUIT, ABU DHABI
ABU DHABI CONVENTION
DUBAI BUSINESS EVENTS/
DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM
AND COMMERCE MARKETING
More UNITED ARAB EMIRATES...
70 Meetings Today // 03.17