Where else? The UAE and especially Dubai has arrived as the world’s favoured business hub. Corporates find it as a convenient destination for serious business talks with counterparts elsewhere in the world be it Europe, Africa, Americas or Asia Pacific. The UAE has lived up to the world’s expectation by investing heavily in infrastructure that facilitates such meetings and exhibitions or conventions. It has proved its mettle in providing the quality facilities for meetings, conferences and exhibitions industry, and has successfully hosted a slew of mega events.
The last decade has seen an increased impetus on the investments in exhibition infrastructure in Dubai. The city’s administration has doubled its infrastructure to accommodate the ever increasing business traffic which is now estimated to be more than 1.5 million. As many as 300 events are hosted by the city annually which includes more than 100 mega exhibitions and conferences. This increase has made events and exhibitions industry, a significant contributor to the national economy providing the second-highest level of GDP contribution of any country in the world.
And it is getting better with each passing year. Dubai has registered 14% increase in visitor’s attendance on Y-o-Y basis. Such a promising statistic was realized by the par excellence infrastructure that the emirate provides in terms of communications, connectivity, facilities and ambience. Five per cent growth in exhibitor participation was also registered for the period. The magnitude of growth is easily gauged by the fact that one single venue, the Dubai World Trade Centre, wrote home 2.5 per cent of the city’s total GDP.
Maybe no other city of the world plays the perfect host to an array of mega events of different hues. Some of the high profile events in Dubai include Annual Meeting of the IMF/World Bank attended by delegates across the world where the who’s who of Finance makes it a point to attend, the spectacular biennial Dubai Airshow showcasing the best in the contemporary design and technology, periodic World Economic Forum Summits, the Dubai International Film Festival where the world cinema discovers new talents, the sporting extravaganza like Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and the Dubai World Championship (a US$7.5m golf tournament on The European Tour), the internationally renowned Dubai World Cup – and of course, the Dubai Summer Surprises Festival ,believed to be the largest event held in the Middle East region, with over 2.2 million visitors.
What is the reason behind Dubai’s success as an event city? One of the main reasons is certainly the cosmopolitan makeup of the city with a multicultural mosaic of over 200 nationalities. It is at the crossroads of world trade too and its strategic location adds to its importance on the world trade map. Another important factor is that Dubai is a youth city with 70% of its population with a mean age between 20 -40. This combination of factors naturally makes Dubai a happening city.
Dubai is also blessed with an able leadership which is open to new ideas and welcomes people from across the world and helps them achieve their dreams. The state goes to great lengths to ensure that the right infrastructure and policy is in place to help build strong business foundations. These strengths of inclusiveness and openness have continuously drawn the brightest minds in world business and industry to this effervescent city that lights the right spark to a big business dreams.
Dubai’s success is emulated by other emirates. Abu Dhabi, for instance, plays host to F1 Grand Prix, Abu Dhabi Film Festival, World Future Energy Summit and many other international-standard events, conferences and exhibitions.
Education is one of the key factors that create a healthy economy. Leadership in UAE had long realized this fact and had invested heavily in education since the early years of independence. The seeds that they had sown forty years ago have borne fruit. Today, the UAE is one of the countries in the region that has encouraged women’s education. UAE has the highest percentage of female high school graduates in the world who enroll in a University. The country now boasts of 1200 odd schools and over 70 universities.
The quality of education in these centres of education is at par with the best in the world. UAE has the ability, intellect and facilities to further research and development in frontier technologies and science. While Masdar Institute of Science and Technology focuses on research on alternative energy and sustainability, elsewhere in Masdar, programmes are carried out in cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. Be it Environmental engineering, software development, film production or biotechnology, UAE is one of the sunrise education & research countries.
For global trade and International commerce, Dubai has been the top trading economy in the Middle East, with seamless connectivity and superlative infrastructure for businesses. The UAE recorded a total trade surplus of US$94m two years ago. Contrary to popular belief, oil revenues account for only a low 9% of the GDP while non-oil trade accounts for 71 per cent of its total GDP. Dubai, for instance has oil accounts for less than five per cent of total economic output.
India and China are the two largest trade partners of UAE. UAE is focusing on other growing economies like the African countries and has already posted a significant rise in the trade flows. In the last decade and half the trade volumes with Africa has risen by over 700%. Latin America too has some promising trade partnerships, especially Brazil. A large chunk of this trade happens through Dubai, a transit point. Its jewel is the Jebel Ali Port which is one of the busiest ports in the world. As many as 100 containers are handled each minute and the latest addition of a new Logistics Corridor connecting it to Al Maktoum International Airport has added to its value. Goods now take a meager 20 minutes to reach the airport. Dubai‘s global trade is expected to rise by over 20 per cent, to a staggering US$300bn, this year alone.
No wonder that half of the Fortune 500 companies have their presence in Dubai. Dubai is also one of the most preferred regional Head Quarters option for many multinationals. The multinationals find it like a second home with all the trappings of a world city.
It is not much of a surprise when studies reveal that Dubai is one of the top 10 urban tourist destinations of the world. A whopping 54 million visitors were recorded just at one of the prime tourist spots – The Burj Khaklifa. The city has transformed itself from being a middle east outpost with dirt roads and bazaars to a bustling metropolis with modern architecture, swanky cars, mind boggling malls and urban spaces and futuristic infrastructure like driverless metro, Burj Khalifa, tallest tower in the world and a whole lot of luxury waterfront villas created out of sea as if created by a magic wand. It is really a dream in fantasy world of Arabian Nights, just better because it is for real.
The Art & culture scene in UAE, especially Dubai and Abu Dhabi is quite buoyant. Art Galleries, History Museums, Maritime Museums and entire cultural districts add colour to life. In Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island (27 Kilemeters square) will be a home land for Zayed National Museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, maritime museum and a performing arts centre. Events such as Art Dubai, Sharjah Biennial, Classical Music Festival Abu Dhabi, Literature Emirates Festival, Abu Dhabi and Dubai Film Festivals and and opera too are held periodically to provide the fine-tuned entertainment for all tastes.
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