Guide to Meeting & Event Planning in


Learn why you should host your next meeting, event or conference in Dubai.

Why Dubai for Your Next Meeting or Event?

A destination like no other, this city on the Arabian Peninsula seems to have cornered the market on outsize attractions, cutting-edge tech and all things lavish or just plain breathtaking, all helping to create an unforgettable experience for attendees. Yet even while Dubai sprints into the future, it also preserves its past and gives groups the opportunity to immerse themselves in a rich history and culture.

Only in Dubai

Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest air hub by international passengers, is a showcase of modernity and comfort, with outstanding shopping and dining, not to mention comfortable lounging and people-watching. The facility is easily accessible and just a 15-minute cab ride from most hotels. Meanwhile, the city’s other airport, Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central, is currently undergoing a major expansion.

PARTNER CONTENT. This video gives an overview of when the Institute of Internal Auditors brought its International Conference 2018 to the city.

ICCA Congress Breaks Records in Dubai
Dubai pulled out all the stops  during the 57th International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) in November, the organization's largest gathering ever held outside of Europe. The organization has identified the Middle East as an important growth area with Dubai playing a significant role in this, hosting an increasing number of international association meetings. Read more here.

Travel Essentials

Taxes: 10% service charge; 7% municipality fee; 5% VAT

Convention Center
Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (part of the 1.3 million-square-foot Dubai World Trade Centre); 40,000 square feet of exhibition space; 42 meeting rooms

CVB: Visit Dubai, +971 600-55-5559; 212-529-8484

Visa Information: Can be found here, including a list of countries whose citizens get 30-day and 90-day visas on arrival.

Transportation in & Around the Area

Dubai International Airport, about 15 km from city center. Transfer cost by taxi starts at US$7.

Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum International Airport, about 55 km from city center. Transfer cost by taxi runs from US$25-US$40 to the city center.

Meeting & Event Venues

 New & Coming Soon to Dubai

• The Voco Dubai will open its doors in the first quarter of 2019, making it the first Voco hotel in the Middle East. Located on Shaikh Zayed Road, which is home to most of Dubai’s signature skyscrapers, Voco Dubai will be located in what is currently the Nassima Royal Hotel. Designed for both business and leisure travelers, the re-branded hotel will have 471 guest rooms that overlook either Sheikh Zayed Road or the beach. Amenities will include a business center, an outdoor swimming pool, a gymnasium, a spa, three restaurants and over 10,000 square feet of meeting space. Read more here.

• The Indian Hotels Company Limited, India's largest hospitality company, has signed an agreement to open its fourth Taj hotel in Dubai, increasing its inventory to more than 1,000 rooms in the city. The new Taj hotel, slated to open in early 2022, is being developed at Deira Creek. Read more here.

• Set inside the mixed-use The Opus complex, in a dramatically sleek and undulating glass structure designed by starchitect Zaha Hadid, the ME Dubai, part of Spanish hospitality brand ME by Meliá, will offer 93 guest rooms and suites, as well as 98 serviced apartments. The hotel features 6,000 square feet of event space as well as fine-dining outlets, retail space, a bar, a swimming pool and a spa. The work of local artists is showcased in the lobby and within a mini gallery with original pieces available for purchase.
The Stella Di Mare Dubai Marina Hotel will offer 369 deluxe rooms (all done up in a gorgeous art deco design) spread over 31 floors set in the waterfront Dubai Marina district. Features include a multipurpose ballroom that can accommodate up to 250 attendees, an expansive rooftop terrace and a number of culinary offerings, including Italian cuisine at Leonardo, an international buffet at La Fontana and the views from the Skyland rooftop bar.

• Caesars has recently announced plans to open its first non-gaming resorts via a pair of luxury hotels — Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai and Caesars Bluewaters Dubai — as well as the Caesars Beach Club with indoor and outdoor beachfront pools. Together, the two properties will offer 479 rooms, a wealth of meeting space and a wide range of attractions, including six restaurants and bars, more than 150 shopping and entertainment outlets, and the Ain Dubai, billed as the world's largest observation wheel.

• Preparations are well underway for Expo Dubai 2020. Set to launch Oct. 20, 2020, the first World Expo ever to be held in the Middle East will run for six months, featuring 190 country pavilions and three themed districts will be hundreds of restaurants, countless arts and cultural experience. Most of the event's business programming will take place in the under-construction Dubai Exhibition Centre. Offering 45,000 square meters of event space, it will include two multipurpose halls and theaters, all about 15 minutes from the city's downtown hotels. Read more about these plans here.

• The Millennium Al Barsha Hotel and Apartments will soon be opening its doors, offering 299 guest rooms (as well as 109 serviced apartments) with all modern amenities and design elements. It will include a number of F&B features, such as the House of Colors all-day buffet and regional cuisine of Moroccan Kitchen. Its range of meeting and conference rooms will be able to accommodate groups of both small and medium sizes, with high-tech equipment and a dedicated events team.

Hotel & Venue Additions

• The beachfront property closest to Dubai's financial and business districts, the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai, has opened its doors as a "luxurious urban resort" with 256 rooms and suites and a 7,500-square-foot glass-walled ballroom complete with terrace overlooking the beach. On-site are four light-filled, divisible meeting rooms equipped with high-performance A/V equipment and more. Read more here.

• W Dubai – The Palm has opened its doors, with 350 rooms and suites (including the largest suite in Dubai) offering uninterrupted views of the Dubai skyline. The hotel, the first W brand property in the destination, includes more than 6,500 square feet of event space promises incentive groups unconventional design and luxurious accommodations for their next visit to Dubai. Amenities include six dining outlets, a private beach and watersports. Read more here.

• To significantly boost visitor-arrival goals, the country has waived a bank-guarantee requirement for inbound and outbound tourism companies based in the emirate. The measure is in keeping with the government’s 2022-2025 tourism strategy and vision to make Dubai the world's most visited destination. Read more here.

Dubai International Airport has a new offering on its playlist, a Hard Rock Café. This new outpost of the famous franchise opened last month in Terminal 3 on Concourse B, with a restaurant, grab-and-go eats, Rock Shop merchandise and memorabilia including Michael Jackson’s spangled jacket, Jimi Hendrix’s fringed leather vest and Shakira’s pants. Hungry travelers with time to spare can dine on delish dishes including hickory smoked beef ribs, a hand-pulled lamb sandwich on a soft brioche bun or a hot-fudge brownie smothered in vanilla ice cream. Harried flyers can grab signature burgers, wings and nachos at the express counter, or salads, fresh fruit and sandwiches from the grab-and-go counter. The new Hard Rock adds to DXB’s many leisure and entertainment offerings, which include over 100 dining outlets.
• Inspired by the palaces of 18th century Europe, the 391-room Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai, which swung open its doors in November 2018, offers carefully curated experiences on a private beach on the Arabian Gulf. It features eight restaurants and bars, a 23,000-square-foot event space, a spa, wellness center and yoga studio, and the largest private cinema on Palm Jumeirah. Rad more here.

• The 145-room Aloft Dubai South, the Aloft brand's fourth property to open in Dubai this year, has swung open its doors near the city's Al Maktoum International Airport. It is the first hotel to open in Dubai South, a developing business and trade district. Read more here.

• The E2 Dubai South Event & Exhibition Center has debuted a 360-degree virtual-reality tour tool that allows prospective meeting planners to explore the venue’s event space as if there in person. Planners can now get a closer look at the staging, A/V offerings, food and beverage, and custom branding capabilities of E2’s more than 130,000 square feet of exhibition space, its main hall and more.

• Al Seef Hotel by Jumeirah has opened in Dubai's Al Seef, a bustling destination on the south bank of Dubai Creek. It offers 180 rooms and 10 suites decorated with historic artifacts, rotary dial phones, hanging oil lanterns and framed photographs of the souk (market) and creek through the years. What's more, the Emirati-inspired design are spread across 10 clusters of Arabian bayts (homes), in the midst of the souk, similar to old neighborhoods of the past.

• The Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront, set in the new Business Bay District on the Dubai Water Canal, opened earlier this year. Features include 432 rooms and suites and a number of meeting venues, including a ballroom, 11 versatile meeting rooms and an expansive outdoor terrace overlooking the Burj Khalifa. The dining options also impress, with choices ranging from the Nordic inspired Larder restaurant and Scottish bar Makar to the down-home (Dubai-style) Fire Lake Grill House and Cocktail Bar.

 Mandarin Oriental Jumeira dubai
The Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai, will soon open its doors, offering groups the closest beachfront resort to the city's financial and business district.

• At 1,168 feet high, the Gevora Hotel, the world's tallest hotel, opened in February in the city's World Trade Centre. This dizzying tower offers 528 luxurious accommodations, from deluxe rooms to two-bedroom suites, all decked out in gold-covered art deco splendor. It also provides guests with a fitness room, a pool and a Jacuzzi, as well as three restaurants, with two more to open by the end of 2018, including the Highest View Restaurant on, of course, the rooftop. The Business Centre is on the 12th floor and includes a 12-person boardroom and a range of services.

• The 504-room Lapita Hotel, which opened in January 2017, brings a Polynesian theme to its architecture, landscaping and culinary offerings. On-site is a ballroom that can hold up to 600 guests, along with seven meeting rooms and an outdoor gathering space. As the only hotel within Dubai Parks and Resorts, the property connects directly to theme parks such as Legoland and Motiongat, including their numerous event spaces.

• The Rixos Premium Dubai opened last year in the heart of the Jumeirah Beach Residence complex overlooking the Arabian Gulf (and the soon-to-open Dubai Eye Ferris wheel). The hotel has 443 rooms and suites; 10 meeting rooms, the largest of which can accommodate up to 150 people; and the Diamond Ballroom, which can hold up to 700. When it's time to unwind, attendees can work out in the RixGym fitness center, with floor-to-ceiling views of the Arabian Gulf, or enjoy a hammam treatment at the Natureland spa.

• The Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai, opened in October 2017 with 298 stylish modern rooms and suites as well as expansive views of the Dubai Canal and Burj Khalifa. The property includes a business center and six event rooms able to host events of up to 300 attendees and equipped with cutting-edge A/V and high-speed WiFi.


Things to Do in Dubai

Dubai's Top Restaurants

Meals With Local Flavor
Not only is the
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding a nonprofit organization aimed at helping visitors get a better understanding of the culture and customs of the UAE, but it serves authentic dishes prepared in the home of the organization's founder. Offerings range from Arabic coffee to mhammar (small local fish spiced and served whole with carmelized onions).  

BLVD on One
Open kitchens and wooden interiors await guests at this global brasserie in the luxurious FIVE Palm Jumeirah Dubai, featuring dishes from Africa, China, India, Sweden and more.

The food, the views — Pierchic is in a class of its own. Set on the end of the pier at Al Qasr Hotel, this "over-the-water" dining experience is an excellent way for groups to experience the splendor of Dubai. Dining on choice Mediterranean seafood while taking in the sheer majesty of the Arabian Gulf is a breathtaking experience.

Qasr Al Sultan
This shopping and dining experience immerses attendees in traditional Arabian luxury and hospitality, starting with plush cushions in the bakhoor-scented majils, a traditional lounge. The Qasr Al Sultan Souq showcases clothing, jewelry and traditional arts and crafts, and leads to the Qasr Al Sultan's Food Bazaar, where visitors enjoy dinner and a live stage show.

Extending Your Trip 

Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall, said to be the world's largest and most-visited retail and entertainment destination, spans 5.9 million square feet, with more than 1,300 stores and 200 food-and-beverage outlets. This bustling city-within-a-city features most major brands, an Olympic-sized ice-skating rink and an amusement park, as well as the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, with thousands of aquatic animals. The mall's VR Park, a first-of-its-kind attraction in the Middle East, welcomes visitors into a virtual- and augmented-reality theme park.

dubai mall
The Dubai Mall is the largest and most-visited retail and entertainment destination in the world.

Burj Khalifa
Perhaps the most recognizable of Dubai's many attractions is the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, which rises an incredible 2,716.5 feet into the sky. This 160-story monolith stands as the magnificent centerpiece of downtown and is adjacent to the 900-foot-long Dubai Fountain, one of the world's largest water, music and light spectacles. A full experience here requires whizzing to the top of the tower or, for a VIP experience, a visit to the Atmosphere Restaurant & Lounge on level 122, with stunning views in an upscale setting.

One of the fastest-growing destinations in the world, Dubai is also one of the wealthiest. There is no better place to see its riches on display than at the country's souks, or traditional Arabian markets, set in the original heart of the city. Colorful, noisy and fascinating, these shops offer plenty of entertainment along with their taste of Middle Eastern history. For something flashier, the Gold Souk features gold bracelets, necklaces and even breastplates, along with the colorful (and pungent!) sacks of spices, herbs, rice and dried fruit at the Spice Souk.

Abra Cruise
While today's Dubai teems with glamorous sports cars, motor bikes and private helicopters, this once was a city that relied mainly on abras — gondola-like boats — to transport people and goods up and down Dubai Creek. This is still a popular and scenic way to get around and offers a chance to watch old dhows (traditional sailing vessels) plying the Gulf's waters. 

Area Excursions

Camel Polo
Spend an afternoon playing polo like you've never experienced it — on the back of a camel, the UAE's most treasured animal. Your group will be divided into teams, and after a champagne toast will get instruction in how to swing a mallet. Next come the camels; professional riders control the animals upfront while the players hold on behind, wielding their mallets to (hopefully) score goals.

This activity has attendees piling into four-by-four vehicles that take them on an Al Maha Desert Safari Experience. After a thrilling ride up and down the dunes, your group will come upon a verdant oasis deep within the desert, decked out with an Arabic feast. After dining. attendees can take part in traditional henna painting and hookah smoking while watching a traditional fire dance.

Ski Dubai

No matter the time of the year, slaloming down the slopes in the middle of the desert is offered by Ski Dubai, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. Along with skiing, groups can enjoy snowboarding, ziplining and tobogganing — plus up-close-and-personal encounters with 20 friendly snow penguins.

That's the Ticket

Dubai World Cup
Dubai is home to one of the world's richest horse races, the Dubai World Cup. Next year's competitions, which will take place from Jan. 3 to March 9, include musical performances and massive fireworks displays.

Dubai Desert Classic
Referred to as the "Major of the Middle East," the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament attracts an elite group of players every year and has crowned 24 winners from 13 nations since its founding in 1989, when the European Tour first visited the area.

Sheikh Mohammed Centre
The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding serves up traditional dishes, giving visitors a taste of the local culture

Fun Tidbits
Dubai's Palm Island is famous for being the world's largest man-made island — visible from space. Each frond of its palm-tree shape houses a vast number of residential, commercial and entertainment properties, including several uber-luxury resorts like the Atlantis and, at the trunk, the ultra-modern FIVE Palm Jumeirah Dubai.

Focus on Happiness

A mandate from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai, is to make people happy. "The job of government is to empower people, not to have the power over them. The job of government is to achieve happiness," he writes in his book, Reflections on Happiness & Positivity. This isn't just idle talk: Last year, Sheikh Mohammed appointed the country's first minister of state for happiness to promote positive attitudes in government and life.