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Friday, 08 November, 2019, 15 : 55 PM [IST]

‘With 2mn annual Indian visitors Dubai’s position is reflected in the business segment’

With Dubai gearing up to host Expo 2020, Dubai Business Events is looking at making the showcase an epicenter for event organisers with its sheer scale. Steen Jakobsen, Assistant Vice President of Dubai Business Events speaks to P Krishna Kumar about their activities, and plans for the Indian market to ensure the emirate remains a key proposition for business events.

Q 2020 is special for Dubai as the city is hosting Expo 2020. How would it be adding to Dubai's business events profile? As a convention bureau of Dubai how is Dubai Business Events geared to make maximum advantage out of it?
Dubai Expo 2020 is set to demonstrate on a global stage the city's ability to host world-class events, with 25 million visits expected over the course of the six-month event. For the business events sector, the Expo will be important for a number of reasons - during the course of the Expo, planners have the opportunity to incorporate it into their events, whether that is by taking their groups to visit the themed and national pavilions or making use of meetings facility there, including the 45,000 square metre Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC).

As part of the Expo legacy, DEC will remain and become a core proposition in the city's business events offering, while the rest of the site – 80% of which will be repurposed post-Expo – will include a number of hotels and other facilities. Dubai Business Events is working closely with the Expo 2020 Dubai organisers and other stakeholders to ensure planners can make the most of opportunities both during the event and in its legacy phase.

Q What according to you would sustain Dubai's growth and give the emirate an edge over other international cities and destinations?
A key aspect of Dubai's continued growth as a business events destination is the comfortable and streamlined experience for all visitors, with excellent services at every touchpoint, and all the factors in place to help facilitate events that meet and exceed expectations. And while the key hygiene factors may be in place, there are also a range of unique offerings and experiences which repeatedly pull groups to Dubai. Among these are the opportunity to explore the souks and museums around Dubai Creek, to go up the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, and of course experience Arabian hospitality under the stars with a desert safari.

Q How is Dubai Business Events making sure that international business events organisers and delegates get seamless access to the destination with favourable entry permits?

Dubai Business Events is able to connect planners with the appropriate DMCs in order to ensure efficient logistics for their groups, and to take care of any visa applications and other entry requirements. It should also be noted that Indian citizens holding a normal passport can either entry with a visit visa issued by the USA, a green card issued by the USA, or a visitor with a residence visa issued by the UK/EU can obtain a visa on arrival to Dubai for a maximum stay of 14 days provided that the visas or the green card is valid for at least six months from the date of arrival into the UAE. Beyond this, 58 other nationalities can get visas on arrival to Dubai.

Q What is your added focus to tap Indian business events to Dubai, and your key messaging to Indian audience?
India is Dubai's number one source market for international overnight tourists, with more than 2 million visitors a year, and this position in also reflected within the business visitor segment. A strong affinity for Dubai among Indian tourists, combined with the historic ties between India and the UAE, has been reinforced in recent years by extensive marketing efforts, reaching out to both potential travellers and the trade audience. To meeting planners based in India, our main message is that the proximity and extensive flight connectivity means it is a logical choice for clients looking for unique, inspiring gatherings that have a strong pull to groups and potential delegates. And when Indian business travellers come to Dubai, they can expect a comfortable and streamlined experience with excellent services at every touch point, and all the factors in place to help facilitate events that meet and exceed expectations.

Q Do you think that the perception that Dubai because of its luxury offerings is an expensive destination is a challenge while promoting the destination for business events in markets like India? How do you plan to overcome that?

While Dubai does of course have plenty of luxury offerings, it is important for us to communicate to planners that it is a destination that can cater to needs at a wide range of budgets. In the hotel sector, for example, while there are five-star resorts and international luxury brands, there are also mid-scale lifestyle options, including from homegrown operators that can offer word-class hospitality at different price points. Our year-round programme of engagement with meeting planners helps to achieve this, as does bringing them to Dubai to experience it first-hand.
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