DUBAI PRESS TRIP TO REMEMBER
Visiting a destination during the corona crisis is a distinctly divergent experience compared to visits before. It seems that all our chakras and senses for full-fledged experiences have opened once again. That is especially true for a destination as luring as Dubai that invited seven specialised, internationally-established media reporters from the meetings industry to visit at the end of November. It was an honour to join my colleagues for the legendary press trip, famed for its excellent organisation, creativity and innovation.
The organisers stayed true to tradition this year. They pulled out all the stops to make us feel like Jessica Alba and Zac Efron, the heroes of the latest Dubai promotional series. It appears the campaign that is taking place in 29 markets and 16 languages inspired our hosts a great deal. Luckily, they saved some of the most dramatic moments for us, and in three days, we were able to visit and relive most of the film locations. The press trip comprised staying at the iconic Jumeirah Al Qasr, admiring the Burj Al Arab at dawn, marvelling at Dubai City’s architectural wonders and fittingly concluding our extraordinary visit in Dubai’s desert safari.
Our first day was dedicated entirely to Expo that appeared invigorated during our visit. In the former desert suburb of Dubai, 192 countries are presenting themselves at the first Expo hosted in the Middle East. You can read more about my impressions at the following link: https://kongres-magazine.eu/2021/12/dubai-expo-en-route-to-the-human-centric-future-city-district-2020/.
Upon visiting Expo, it is hard not to reflect on the multiplicative effect and legacy of the event. We were overwhelmed with optimism upon seeing how Dubai is tackling the coronavirus. Dubai’s courageous approach to battling the virus was learning how to live with the virus. Consequently, tourism in Dubai is already at 80 per cent of the pre-corona season. All you need to enter the country is a negative PCR test. In Dubai, everything is up-and-running, more or less without a glitch, albeit with masks and maintaining social distance. The city has been placed on top of the world’s safest cities list in recent years. Hence, the combination of these factors and the fact that UAE’s government made it one of the safest countries in the world, deciding to travel to Dubai is a no-brainer.
Dubai has developed its own certificate Dubai Assured Stamp that promotes a zero-tolerance policy towards respecting epidemiological restrictions. That is why I believe the world exhibition will facilitate a positive balance.
Dubai is, likewise, taking a though-out and cunning approach toward business tourism. As the director of Dubai Business Events, Steen Jakobsen shared with us, Dubai is ready for a swift rebound compared to its competition. This year, the hotel rooms are already 60 per cent booked, whilst the RevPark (Revenue Per Available Room) is relatively high and amounts to 77 USD. Hence, Dubai is to once again welcome between 23 and 25 million tourists per year at the latest by 2025. The pipeline of events is equally positive, largely credit of Dubai Association Centre or DAC. Numerous associations have chosen Dubai as their centre of operations thanks to DAC.
The essence, nonetheless, is hidden from visitors’ eyes. Dubai is a city of the future, showcasing that not only with its architecture of superlatives and tourist attractions. The city is intensively transforming into the centre of the Middle East’s start-up scene, blockchain technology and space technology. We made sure of this, having visited Dubai Future Foundation that can be aptly described as the key start-up foundation of the United Arab Emirates. Their activities are based around pillars that will enable the UAE a smooth transition into a future city. Imagine the future is a laboratory of new ideas, focused on planning and realizing plans. At the moment, they are making 89 pilot projects from 39 countries a reality. The centre itself was created by transforming a former shopping mall, thus sending a symbolic message. Instead of being a consumerism centre, it is today an institution connected by the slogan »Where great minds meet today to design the future«.
On our last day, we took a look at two beguiling stories of the future. Deep in the desert of Dubai lays Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Park, one of the largest solar power plants in the world. The investment worth 13,6 billion dollars is proof that Dubai is serious with its promise of offering a sustainable supply of renewable energy. The solar park comprises 2,3 million solar panels with an overall capacity of 213 megawatts. A visit to the centre is telling of the future plans of the desert superpower.
When hearing about the United Arab Emirates, our first association is usually their dependence on oil and natural gas, and at the same time, the absence of any economic diversification. At least for Dubai, this has long been far from the truth, as they have started developing numerous high-tech sectors, including space technology. Their space programmes will bring them shoulder to shoulder with the world’s greatest space exploration forces such as the US, EU, China, Japan and India. An integral role to achieve this mission is played by the space programme of UAE, revolving around the work of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, founded in 2006. Amid our visit to the centre, we learned of the centre’s several accomplishments: an astronaut from UAE, Hazza Al Mansouri, was the first Arabian at the International Space Station (ISS) in 2019, while in February of this year, the Hope Probe under UAE’s flag arrived successfully in orbit around Mars. Among other goals, they strive to send a rover to the Moon in cooperation with Elon Musk’s SpaceX. All of the mentioned contributed to Dubai hosting the International Astronautical Congress 2021 in October.
The city’s ambitious plans will see Dubai sell its last barrel of oil in 2050, and by then, the visions we mentioned will have become a reality.
As appropriate, we spent the final part of the press trip on a desert safari that astonished us and perfectly concluded the unparalleled experience. Indeed, I felt like Zac Efron, discovering the hidden secrets of the desert metropolis.
Considering the countless press trips I had the privilege to attend in the past, I must sincerely thank the organisers for the excellent organisation and for preparing a programme that presented the destination in a hitherto unseen light. That is precisely what global media representatives want most. Further impressions of our Dubai visit will be published in the form of an extensive report titled Dubai Destination Update, set to be published by the end of December.
Article by Gorazd Čad, Editor in Chief