Thanks to a culture of strong collaborations between the public and private sectors, and the visionary leadership of the city, Dubai has built a strong reputation in the meetings industry. As the number one destination in the Middle East for business events, factors like connectivity, diversity in the hotel sector, a robust variety of venues, and a wealth of activities and experiences have helped place Dubai top of mind for association planners.
A leading international centre for business, commerce, industry and tourism, Dubai prides itself on its business-friendly—and accessible—policies. With a history as a trading society, it has brought its ‘open doors’ spirit into the modern world, attracting foreign business and investment through free-trade zones, no income tax, and a favorable corporate taxation policy.
Recently, in fact, Dubai Economy and Dubai Tourism merged into one entity under the name Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism. The move is part of a plan approved by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum that seeks to develop government work in Dubai and enhance its efficiency and resilience in order to keep pace with rapid changes while ensuring the competitiveness of the business and tourism sectors in Dubai.
“Dubai’s economy has witnessed different phases of development throughout its history, which has helped shape the city’s current status as a model for economic development and a preferred destination for tourism,” says Steen Jakobsen, Assistant Vice President, Dubai Business Events. “Today, we have even stronger ambitions with this new department. Raising our global competitiveness requires new ways of thinking, and this merge is testament to our outlook to the future.”
Some of the first items of business on the list for the new department? Transforming Dubai into one of the top five global cities in the main economic indicators; attracting 100,000 companies in three years, as well as 400 global economic events annually by 2025; and increasing the number of tourists coming to Dubai by 40% to 25 million visitors by the same year.
While they may just be voiced publicly now, these new ways of thinking have always been at work in Dubai. The Emirate is on a journey to become a knowledge-based economy, and the Dubai Association Centre (DAC) is a good example of the progress underway. Offering assistance for the establishment of international non-profit, professional associations and trade bodies in Dubai, DAC acts as a formal environment where associations can form a membership-based community or open a regional representative office to conduct business in the UAE and around the globe. So far, it has proved to be quite successful, with a total of 70 licensed associations announced earlier in 2021.
In addition to offering an environment that eases the ability to conduct business, Dubai gives associations the opportunity to tap into an entirely new market and serves as a gateway to Asia and Africa. The Emirate also boasts a competitive edge when it comes to providing future-focused facilities and infrastructure.
The aptly named Dubai Future Foundation, for instance, houses a number of incubators where a variety of technological advances are being designed and tested, all with a focus on creating a more sustainable future.The Foundation has developed a number of technologies in the field of robotics, virtual reality, policing and healthcare, and has taken a number of Smart City initiatives, which have been adopted by the Dubai Government to improve the quality of life for residents. The soon-to-debut Museum of the Future will showcase even more of these developments.
City of firsts
Located on the vicinity of Expo 2020, District 2020 is a human-centric future city that provides everything that people and businesses need to thrive – and a great example of the Emirate’s vision. It will repurpose the space it’s currently using so that after Expo 2020 wraps up, it can offer a combination contemporary office spaces and residences, education and cultural facilities, entertainment venues, and a range of iconic attractions. As a ‘city of firsts,’ it will be a global hub for innovation that brings together an inclusive and diverse community and connects future sectors and technologies – such as IoT or AI – to create a more resilient, smarter and sustainable urban environment.
Also situated on the site of Expo 2020, the brand-new Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC) is a 45,000-sqm multipurpose venue that can accommodate a variety of layouts for all kinds of business events in 14 halls and 24 meeting rooms. The venue is adjacent to the Dubai Metro Route 2020, an extension of the Dubai metro that connect visitors directly to a host of hotels – all within a 15-minute ride. It complements the now-famous Dubai World Trade Center, the region’s leading exhibition and congress organizer, which has led the way in safely reopening large-scale international events in Dubai.
The city was one of the first to open again – after one and only one lockdown – and has made sure delegates could meet in the safest environment possible. As early as July 2020, Dubai launched a compliance program to certify and recognize hotels and retail establishments, F&B outlets, and attractions that have implemented all public health protocols for the prevention and management of COVID-19. Those who did received a specially designed ‘DUBAI ASSURED’ stamp, a visual mark reassuring guests that safety and hygiene measures established by the authorities have been followed.
No wonder the International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2021), which took place at Dubai World Trade Centre in October 2021, was so successful. Organized by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) and hosted by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC), this was the first time the event was held in the Middle East, and it attracted more than 6,500 delegates from 110-plus countries. Established by the Dubai Government, MBRSC serves as one of the main pillars to drive the establishment of the knowledge economy and sustainable development in the UAE. With the theme “Inspire, Innovate & Discover for the Benefit of Humankind”, the IAC 2021 definitely made a contribution to science and humanity by strengthening and enhancing cooperation between all countries in the space sector.