Dubai Breaks Records

As always, Dubai destination continues to exceed expectations

Burj Khalifa Dubai cityscape

From top-notch hotels and high-end shopping, to unforgettable experiences, Dubai remains the height of luxury for visitors (and not just because it houses the tallest building in the world). The city advanced 19 places to 44th position in the 2014 International Congress & Convention Associations (ICCA) World Rankings -- up from 63rd place in 2013, and is ranked 14th globally in the annual report published by the Union of International Association (UIA), reflecting the strides the city has made in attracting international meetings.

"Representing the link between the East and the West, Dubai benefits from its strategic location and features many characteristics that make up its strong market fundamentals," says Steen Jakobsen, director of Dubai Business Events. "Global connectivity, great hospitality, state-of-the-art facilities, and world-class infrastructure, in addition to a visionary leadership and continuous legislative developments that support our future vision of establishing Dubai as a knowledge hub, are key drivers to attract more business events."

Home to major industries including healthcare, IT, and financial services, Dubai has leveraged its appeal as a world-class meeting destination to establish itself as a global hub for expertise and knowledge in these fields. Jakobsen points to the World Expo the city will be hosting as an example of how "knowledge exchange" has become one of Dubai's hallmarks. Last year, the city boasted a record number of visitors, with more than 14.2 million overnight guests (a 7.5 percent increase over the year before).

"Following the phenomenal visitor numbers just released, Dubai continues to be a leading destination for international visitors and is firmly positioned as the fourth most visited city in the world," says Jakobsen. Nor does it hurt that Dubai International Airport surpassed London's Heathrow last year to become the world's busiest airport.

The destination shows no signs of slowing its growth. Of particular interest is the 51,000-square-foot extension at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), which increased exhibition capacity to over 400,000 square feet total. While the city ended 2015 with more than 96,000 hotel rooms, by the end of this year, it is expecting that to rise to 115,000 rooms.

"The increase of hotel rooms will not only aid in ensuring a larger number of rooms are available for the inflow of visitors and group travelers, but will also contribute to Dubai's effort in diversifying the industry to include both mid-market and luxury hotel offerings," says Jakobsen.

He points to 25 new luxury properties on the horizon, including the new Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah and the Shangri-La Palm Tower. An extension of the Madinat Jumeirah will add a new hotel-- Jumeirah Al Naseem -- by the end of the year. From small meeting rooms to expansive ballrooms, all the properties coming online this year will have some kind of meeting space.

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This article appears in the April 2016 issue of Successful Meetings.