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Dubai - Perfect for hosting busness events

Dubai hosts more than half of all business events in the Middle East and there are good reasons for its success in attracting them, so if you’re planning your next big conference or incentive package, it’s definitely somewhere to shortlist.

Dubai’s status as a global conference venue is growing, underlined by an event in April, when the Royal College of Surgeons held its Cardiothoracic Surgery conference there - the first time in 26 years that the event, billed as the most important in its field, has taken place outside the UK or US.

It’s no wonder when you consider Dubai’s connectivity - getting there from pretty much anywhere on the planet is a breeze now that Dubai International has wrested Heathrow’s title as world’s busiest international airport. Access is particularly easy from the UK: From the autumn, London alone will have 10 flights a day to Dubai from Emirates, which adds a fourth daily from Gatwick on October 1, plus three daily flights with British Airways from Heathrow. Then there are Emirates’ regional flights, with three a day each from Manchester and Birmingham, two from Glasgow and one from Newcastle; making 133 a week - perhaps only New York can boast such a spread of flights from around the UK.

When it comes to accommodation, just over half of all Dubai’s hotels fall into the four and five star categories, a figure that is nudging 200 in total, with many boasting meetings facilities to rival the world’s best.

Dubai has 25 new properties in the pipeline, including the Jumeirah Al Naseem, the Viceroy Palm, and the Shangri-La Palm Tower, all due for 2016 or 2017. A key development is Al Habtour City, which brings Dubai its first St Regis and W Hotel (both opening May 2016) plus a 1,000-room Westin. All of these new properties have a conference offering, ranging from small meetings rooms to ballrooms.

Larger events can be accommodated at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre at the Dubai World Trade Centre. A recent 15,500 Sq. m expansion adds four new exhibition halls providing 122,000 Sq. m of multipurpose space, including the main 10,000-plus seat Trade Centre Arena and Sheikh Rashid Hall, which can seat 4,500. DICEC also has 30 other rooms to host 20-200 attendees.

Among large hotel conference venues is the vast Madinat Jumeirah, which has arena space for 4,500 plus a smaller hall for 1,900. The Grand Hyatt Convention Centre, with 5,000 square metres of space, includes two pillar-less ballrooms plus 13 meeting rooms and a capacity of 2,000, while the JW Marriott Marquis can hold meetings of up to 1,500 and boasts 32 event rooms.

Anyone looking for a more authentic Arabian experience for nighttime networking events will find several that fit the bill. They include the Al Sahra Desert Resort, about 30 minutes out of town, which boasts an open amphitheatre seating 500 at round tables or 1,200 in theatre-style.

There are a few things to bear in mind when planning. Ramadan, which in 2017 is from May 27-June 25, means most restaurants and shops are closed until sundown. Women need to dress respectfully for the local culture at any time of the year, although within hotels things are generally more relaxed. Alcohol is available in hotels, restaurants and other licensed premises, but bear in mind that it can be expensive.

Dubai is rapidly climbing its way up the table of the world’s top meetings destinations and this momentum will only grow in the next four years in the run-up to World Expo 2020. Construction work will bring even more venues to Dubai’s meetings portfolio and the new Al Maktoum International airport will be more in operation, meaning even easier access.

With all this activity, no matter how big or small your event, Dubai has to be on your list of places to consider.