Dubai ramps up offering of attractions to target 20 million arrivals per year by 2020. Its "Tourism 2020" vision focuses on broadening Dubai's offering across events, attractions, infrastructure, services and packages.
Currently ranked as a city of choice after London, Paris and Bangkok by Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index, and in 14th place by the Union of International Associations, Dubai is pushing ahead with initiatives to promote leisure travel and business events.
On the business front, Dubai has responded to changing market trends by opening offices in the US and South Korea last year. As a hub for healthcare, IT, trade and financial services, DBE is working on attracting conferences and exhibitions that will bring a high calibre of leaders to the city. To meet demand, the Dubai World Trade Centre's recent 15,000 sqm extension has increased its exhibition capacity to over 122,000 sqm.
Accommodation inventory is expected to hit 115,000 keys by end-2016, with a number of three- and four-star properties opening throughout the year, including the Hilton Garden Inn and Hyatt Place on Baniyas Square. The city will also welcome 25 new luxury properties, including the Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah and the Shangri-La Palm Tower.
Top-draw attractions will also open this year, with major theme parks, the Dubai Opera House, the Dubai Historical District, vibrant retail and shopping environments and a year-round festival calendar working in tandem to drive longer visitor stays.
Here's a look at what's in the pipeline to inspire your event themes:
Fun and adventure
Dubai Parks & Resorts - which houses LEGOLAND Dubai, LEGOLAND Water Park, Motiongate Dubai and Bollywood Parks Dubai - is projected to attract 6.7 million visits in its first full year of operation in 2017. The company also announced the addition of the Middle East's first Six Flags theme park, which will open in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Meanwhile, newly opened IMG Worlds of Adventure has a capacity to welcome 20,000 visitors per day and is forecasted to attract 4.5 million visitors during its first full year of operations, with an equal split between residents and international visitors. It is the world's largest indoor theme park, taking up 1.5 million sq ft.
Dubai's retail landscape continues to evolve, with new shopping areas and international brands, such as City Walk 2, Box Park and The Beach complex in Jumeirah Beach Residence, adding to Dubai's already strong offering comprising over 95 malls as well as traditional Arabian souks.
With close to 400,000 square metres of additional retail space scheduled to be completed this year across Dubai, other major retail developments include the 1.9 million square Dragon Mart 2 extension as well as the upcoming Outlet Village which will feature alongside a number of theme parks and Dubai Mall (phase 2).
Culture and history
Dubai Historical District -a 1.5sq km cultural rejuvenation project is being developed to enhance Khor Dubai, as well as the other historic neighbourhoods of Bur Dubai, Al Fahidi and Deira, to showcase the emirate's heritage, particularly in the fields of trade, handicrafts and pearl diving. Due for completion in 2019.