Dubai - A Meeting Planner's Guide

Welcome to Dubai

As one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan cities in the world, Dubai's manifold appeal makes it an exciting destination for both business and pleasure. Over 670 hotels and vibrant venues are set amid the city's spectacular landscapes ranging from historical creek-side outposts to towering skyscrapers to pristine beaches, complemented by everything you need to indulge your senses and unwind in your own time.


The sheer variety of attractions and activities to be found in Dubai cater to any corporate event or incentive you can imagine. Sun-drenched days call for adventure in the form of skydiving, dune bashing, falconry and surfing; evenings bring on a glamourous nightlife on rooftops or aboard a luxury cruise. n between, shop your way through thousands of stores in the many souks and malls while sampling a world of cuisine at restaurants helmed by celebrity and Michelin-starred chefs.

World-class infrastructure guarantees efficiency and ease in business activities. The city is well-connected by roads, Dubai Metro and the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority's many forms of public transport including taxis, buses, trams and water taxis. Dubai International Airport sees the world's highest international passenger traffic, with daily direct flights from China's largest cities.

Dubai Business Events, the official convention bureau of Dubai, works to make the city the ideal meeting point between East and West. Our professional team provides guidance and support in planning your conventions, exhibitions, and incentives, helping you create an unforgettable trip. We look forward to hosting you in our remarkable city.

Steen Jakobsen,
Director Dubai Business Events

Why Choose Dubai



In the past decade, Dubai has secured a reputation as one of the most exceptional destinations for leisure and business. Even while steeped in history the city boasts a visionary outlook that has resulted in awe-inspiring architecture, cultural diversity, and innovations that enable luxurious living in the harshest of environments. 

In Dubai is well on track to impress the world at its next milestone: Expo 2020, the first to be held in the MEASA (Middle East, Africa and South Asia) region. With an expected 25 million visits, 70 percent of which will be from overseas, the city is investing in next-generation hospitality, MICE and leisure projects in the lead-up to this historic event. "…while the city is already seen as a must-visit destination, a continuous drive to innovate will lead to a constant reinvention of the visitor experience, creating one that is unrivalled anywhere else in the world," says His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

Ease of Business

2015 marked an exceptional year for Dubai Business Events - the official convention bureau of Dubai - as it won 75 bids to host international meetings, conferences and incentives in the city, including the NuSkin South East Asia Incentive group in 2017 and the World Tunnelling Congress in 2018, the World Congress of Neurology in 2019 and the World Congress of Emergency Medicine in 2021. Naturally, this success stems from a fierce focus on growth and close cooperation with airlines, venues, hotels, and destination management partners.

In 2014, Dubai hosted an incentive trip organised by Nu Skin China, the largest incentives group in the UAE's history. "Our successful hosting of the 14,500-delegate incentive group from China has shown the world what we in the emirate have long known," said Steen Jakobsen, Director of Dubai Business Events (DBE), a division of DTCM. "That Dubai has the expertise, infrastructure, dynamic leisure attractions and key partnerships to host events and groups of any size and scale, from anywhere in the world."

Cutting-Edge Infrastructure

Dubai's main convention and exhibition facility, the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), is the region's largest venue operator with over 120,000 square metres of convention and exhibition space. Recently, capacity was expanded by another 15,500 square metres. Complementing this is Dubai's high volume of available accommodations: more than 670 hotels with over 98,000 rooms, with many more in the pipeline.
Having recently taken over as the world's busiest airport by international passenger traffic, Dubai International Airport has further increased its capacity from 75 million to 90 million with the opening of Concourse D in February 2016 - a statement to the emirate's commitment to staying on top as an international air hub.
"Aside from its many customer-centric features, Concourse D continues our legacy of providing timely capacity," said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports. In terms of intra-city transport, Dubai's fully automated Metro system currently connects various neighbourhoods via two lines, and an extension of even new stations are planned to open for Expo 2020. The Metro expansion is part of Dubai's Smart City initiative to streamline its transportation and communication platforms, which includes the  establishment of free citywide Wi-Fi and digitisation of government services. 

Growth Opportunities 

Dubai's location at the crossroads of East and West, with one-third of the world's population living within a four-hour flight of Dubai, makes it a gateway to both highly developed and fast-developing economies. "We find companies and associations are always keen to bring events to destinations with growth opportunities, and this is something Dubai has to offer," says Steen Jakobsen, director of Dubai Business Events. 

Dubai recently welcomed thrice-weekly flights from Wuhan by China Southern Airlines, and from May 2016 Emirates will fly four times a week to Yinchuan and Zhengzhou. The airline already flies to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou on the mainland. Corporations and associations across China will be able to forge new partnerships and explore investment opportunities here with organizations from the U.S., Europe, Middle East, and Africa.


Dubai Business Events



In order to ensure a smooth-sailing and memorable experience for businesses and organizations, Dubai Business Events (DBE), a division of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and the official convention bureau for Dubai, works with planners to provide support and advice from start to finish. 

DBE ASSISTS EVENT PLANNERS organizing their events through focusing on five key service areas: Business event development, destination expertise, convention planning, attendance building, and onsite event servicing. Once an event has been confirmed, 

DBE can help to compile itineraries as well as host and organize site inspections of local venues and hotels. During the event, DBE can provide delegates with visitor guides and, for events comprising more than 750 delegates, DBE will provide a visitor information booth. All services from DBE are free of charge. For organizations that commit to multiyear plans or agreements with Dubai, Dubai Business Events also extends financial support. In some cases, Dubai will provide venue support, reception assistance and citywide branding. DBE works to position Dubai as a world premier incentive and business events destination. "Dubai is particularly well-suited to hosting incentive groups," says Steen Jakobsen. "The city is a perfect example of how hard work and visionary leadership can
combine to create something remarkable."

Promoting Dubai to China
- Dubai Tourism has four dedicated offices in China - in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu, which maintain strong relationships with local stakeholders. - It also hosts media networking events in key Chinese cities as well as in Dubai. - In November 2015, Dubai Tourism welcomed a Chinese study mission comprised of 20 media representatives, 80 event planners and 420 top sales incentive scheme winners. While Dubai may be famed for its luxury and glamour, Jakobsen emphasizes: "the city is inclusive and highly accessible. Dubai offers pricing that is competitive with global hubs in Europe, Asia and North America and great value-for-money options in terms of transport, accommodation and meeting venues." 


Dubai Wins Hearts of Chinese Insurance Executives

EVENT: 2015 International Dragon Award (IDA) Meeting
VENUE: Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC)
ATTENDEES: 6,000 global delegates from 17 different countries representing the worldwide Chinese insurance and financial services industry
BIDDING: The win came after a two year investigatory process organized by  the Worldwide Chinese Life Insurance Congress

"To go the extra mile, and to avoid any language issues, we appointed a team of Mandarin speakers to act as our client's liaison throughout the planning and operation of the event. (DWTC representatives) visited various Chinese markets in Dubai to source the most popular products available and, in some cases, items were sourced directly from China to ensure authenticity in the taste." 

"It's very advanced. I'm impressed."

"Everything is nice and modern in Dubai - the service, the people, the hotel accommodation and all the services."

Local Customs and Travel Information



Understanding local customs and etiquette will help you make the right impression and successfully develop new business connections. Here are some basic pointers to keep in mind when in Dubai.


1. GREET men with a firm handshake, but wait for women to extend their hand. Muslim men and women typically do not shake hands with each other. Older people are typically greeted first. 

2. USE THE RIGHT HAND for eating, shaking hands and passing items like your business card.

 on the conservative side, with closed-toed shoes and clothing that covers shoulders and legs. Swimwear can be worn at pools and private beaches.

4. FOOD, when served to share, usually includes serving utensils. Compliments are warmly appreciated. 

5. ALCOHOL is served in most hotels and private dining establishments.

6. FRIENDLY CONVERSATION, generosity, and thoughtfulness are valued even in business proceedings. Arabic is the official language of the UAE, but English is widely spoken and used in business. The local customary greeting is "As-salam alaikum" 
(Peace be upon you), and the reply is "Wa alaikum as-salam" (And upon you be peace).

7. WEATHER: Dubai's tropical desert climate sees temperatures ranging from 20 degrees C in January to 45 degrees C during the summer months of July and August. WORKING SCHEDULE: Dubai operates on Gulf Standard Time (GST), which is GMT+4. The work week runs from Sunday to Thursday; weekends are Fridays and Saturdays.

8. VISAS: Chinese and other Asian citizens can apply and pay for their visas online if travelling on airlines based in the UAE. Residents of Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea do not require advance visa arrangements.

9. CURRENCY & BANKING: Dubai's currency is the Arab Emirate Dirham, abbreviated as AED or Dhs. The current exchange rate is 1 CNY: 0.55 AED. Many international banks have branches in Dubai.




Dubai's meteoric rise over the past few decades has earned it repute as a city of superlatives, home to numerous man-made marvels as well as foreign residents. Yet its history dates back for centuries and its traditions have been proudly preserved, particularly that of welcoming guests with unwavering hospitality. With over 670 hotels offering more than 98,000 rooms and many more on the way, you'll be spoilt for choice in terms of locale, budget, and capacity when it comes to choosing a venue for your guests in Dubai.

LESS THAN 4km from Dubai International Airport and 10km from the Dubai World Trade Centre, InterContinental Dubai Festival City sits at Dubai Creek and is an ideal starting point for experiencing Dubai's historical districts as well as the gold and textile souks. Direct access to Festival City mall leads to leisure and entertainment options such as a cinema complex and 18-hole golf course, as well as 14 restaurants and cafés to complement the 814-room hotel's six in-house dining venues. For meetings and events, the 4,250sqm Event Centre's 2 ballrooms and 19 meeting rooms - equipped with projectors, wireless Internet, and teleconferencing facilities - easily cater for up to 1,300 delegates.


A striking addition to Dubai's skyline, JW Marriot Marquis Hotel Dubai is the world's tallest hotel and boasts 1,600 guest rooms and suites spread across two towers and 72 floors, guaranteeing panoramic city views. With 7,500sqm of event space at the heart of the city in Business Bay, including two ballrooms and 32 event rooms, as well as a spa and 14 dining venues, the hotel will certainly stand tall in the minds of business guests. For sophisticated events, consider Al Habtoor City, Dubai's newest multi-use development that will see 1,600 rooms across three hotels operated by Starwood Hotels & Resorts: a Westin, a W, and the ultra-luxury St. Regis Dubai. Set on the banks of the Dubai Water Canal, the Al Habtoor City marina allows for transport by yacht or private events on the water to complement the hotels' meeting facilities. The development also includes a European-style boulevard housing elegant boutiques, restaurants, and celebrity stylists' salons, making it an entertainment and leisure venue all on its own. At the Four Seasons Resort Dubai, which stands on the white sands of Jumeirah Beach, the ambience is one of understated luxury that speaks to exclusive corporate meetings and retreats. The 237 spacious rooms and suites - all of which feature balconies and marble-clad bathrooms - are accompanied by 10 in-house and independent dining venues curated from around the world, and a range of exciting indoor and outdoor function spaces for entertaining up to 360 guests. The hotel's two large pools and 270-metre stretch of natural beachfront allow for onsite team-building activities in the way of water sports, and also make for unique event settings.



Larger-scale meetings and incentives will find Madinat Jumeirah suitably versatile; the resort complex comprises two hotels offering 586 guest rooms, as well as a cluster of summer houses and villas. Charming pathways and waterways connect the accommodations to Souk Madinat, a modern indoor shopping mall styled in the manner of Dubai's traditional open-air souks, and guests can avail themselves of the 40-odd dining spots, a spa and a water park. Madinat Jumeirah's meeting facilities have a capacity to match: two ballrooms, four meeting rooms, and an arena at the conference centre are supplemented by various other spaces in the complex to accommodate up to 4,500 participants. 


Letting your hair down


There are literally a thousand ways to unwind in Dubai: from the sky with nothing but a parachute, on the water in a cruise down Dubai Creek, or in a gallery admiring the works of the region's most talented modern artists.

ISSAM KAZIM, CEO of Dubai Tourism, summarizes Dubai's appeal perfectly. "Across gastronomy, family entertainment, events, arts and heritage, and beaches and water sports… the experience is extraordinary." Individuals, families, and incentive groups will have no problem finding targeted and customized activities to complete the itinerary. 

Sun, Sand, Sea



The vast Arabian Desert is a short drive inland from Dubai's city centre and offers more experiences than you can imagine. Many desert safaris involve visiting a traditional Bedouin camp, a drive to observe indigenous wildlife, and an awe-inspiring sunrise or sunset. Further to these, you can tailor your visit to include a bigger adrenaline rush in the form of dune bashing, sandboarding, or hot-air ballooning. Team-building activities can be customized to your group size and objectives. On the other hand, Dubai's 60km of
coastline sees pristine beaches that beckon sunbathers, while kayakers, surfers, and parasailers pepper the waters of the Arabian Gulf. It's the best way to slow your pace for a day and enjoy the year-round sunshine.




Testifying to Dubai's history and prominence as a trading centre are the various ancient souks, or covered markets, found along the banks of Dubai Creek. The stalls upon stalls of textiles, gold, and spices from all over the world will take time to trawl through - get ready to haggle your way to some marvellous finds. In modern times, this expertise in trade and commerce surfaces in the city's 95 or so shopping malls, including the largest mall in the world by total area - the Dubai Mall. Apart from 1,200 shops, here is where you'll also find The Dubai Aquarium, which houses over 33,000 aquatic animals and over 140 marine species in a 10-million-litre tank. More retail therapy beckons at Mall of the Emirates, which last year completed an AED 1 billion redevelopment that added 36,000 sqm of retail, dining and entertainment experiences such as the 24-screen VOX Cinemas and fashion brands from the UK and US entering the region for the first time. Here is also where you'll find Ski Dubai, a 22,500sqm indoor world of snow-covered slopes with its own resident penguin colony.




The diversity of Dubai's residents has, over the years, naturally created a multifaceted jewel of a dining scene that will tantalize and satisfy any palate. Whether you like cuisine that's true to its origins or an exciting, innovative experience, you'll be able to find it here. the Dubai outpost of iconic London chain Hakkasan is still a favourite for modern Cantonese cuisine, with equally extensive roast meat and vegetarian selections. The restaurant's oak-latticed pavilions impart warm intimacy, while signature dining menus are available for groups of six or more. More than just a restaurant, The Act Dubai combines theatre, nightlife and dining for a titillating evening of cabaret-style stage shows accompanied by Peruvian cuisine and artfully mixed cocktails. For the finest Emirati fare, a visit to Al Fanar is a must. The meticulously designed interior is reminiscent of 1960s Dubai, which adds to the rich flavours of authentic Emirati cuisine. Myriad flavours abound at Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard near the Burj Khalifa, where you can take your pick from some 50 food and beverage options, while a stroll through the more tranquil Jumeirah Fishing Harbour will reveal a cluster of waterfront restaurants and cafés serving everything from Thai to Brazilian specialities.

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