Dubai has big plans for the Indian MICE market

MICE in Dubai is expanding beyond just venues. Safety measures are put in place across hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, public transport and Dubai International Airport – ensuring that safety is prioritized at every touchpoint for both visitors and residents. Steen Jakobsen, Assistant Vice President, Dubai Business Events, shares his views.

Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Dubai has garnered a lot of positive reviews in terms of tourist activity in terms of safety. How has the MICE infrastructure transformed in Dubai?

Thanks to the city’s strong response to the global pandemic, Dubai was able to open up for leisure tourism in July, followed by local business events and international business events in September and October respectively, with a steady and growing stream of meetings, conferences, and trade shows since then.

Key to this has been the implementation of robust measures across the city to ensure the health and safety of all visitors and residents. Within the business events segment, this meant creating guidelines for venues and organizers to ensure measures such as social distancing, regular sanitization, and temperature checks were introduced. Expanding beyond just venues, similar measures were also put in place across hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, public transport, and Dubai International Airport – ensuring that safety was prioritized at every touchpoint for both visitors and residents.

Crucially, stakeholders around the city and frontline staff have been regularly updated, with best practices and guidelines shared, and inspections carried out by relevant authorities to ensure these are implemented.

How is the Indian MICE market evolving for Dubai?

In recent years, India has been the number one source market for business visitors to Dubai, and while the pandemic may have impacted performance over the past year, we still see strong potential for longer term growth from the market.

From both the perspective of attracting events through planners, corporates and associations, and in turn bringing across delegates, India, therefore, remains a priority market for us, through the team here in Dubai and our offices there.

What new MICE products are Dubai offering?

Dubai’s hospitality sector continues to grow, with new offerings from both international and homegrown brands, including most recently the ME Dubai by Melia, Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk and Rove La Mer Beach.

There is also always something new to add onto itineraries for business event groups, from visits to the new museums along Dubai Creek, including Al Shindagha Museum which explores the emirate’s seafaring history and its evolution from a humble fishing village into a thriving global metropolis, to leisure developments such as Palm West Beach on Palm Jumeirah, where visitors can enjoy beachfront entertainment, F&B water sports, and take in the Dubai skyline.

Another new offering for the business events segment will be the opportunity to incorporate Expo 2020 Dubai within their itineraries. Within the Expo site is the new Dubai Exhibition Centre, with 45,000 square meters of dedicated events space, which will be an option for planners both during the six-month Expo and as part of its legacy.

What is Dubai’s roadmap for 2021, in terms of MICE?

A key part of our strategy in 2021 is – where possible – to resume face-to-face meetings and interactions with business events professionals around the world. While we understand that there will continue to be digital and virtual channels, we have already had a positive response to the face-to-face sales and study missions we have conducted in recent months, and there is clearly a strong appetite for planners to both hear from us in person and experience Dubai as a destination.

What kind of incentives is the Dubai government offering for MICE players?

As the city’s official convention bureau, at Dubai Business Events we offer a wide suite of free end-to-end services that can assist meeting planners and professionals, from the destination selection and bidding through to the legacy phase.

This includes venue support, assistance in blocking rooms at hotels, developing special pre-and post-tour programs, supplying marketing collateral, and assistance with press relations.

We can also make introductions to stakeholders across the city and ensure planners are able to access special rates and discounts that may be available to them.