Dubai is known as a fastest growing destination in the world, running towards the future. Tourism is playing very important role, strongly implemented into overall economy and lifestyle.

Dubai’s hospitality sector welcomed 11.6 million guests in 2014, while revenues went up by nearly 10 percent, with total revenues reaching $6.5 billion.
The goal of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing is to attract 20 millions of visitors until 2020, and to become most visited city in the world.

Mr Steen Jakobsen
Mr Steen Jakobsen

On this occasion, we had a pleasure to talk to Mr Steen Jakobsen, the director of the Dubai Business Events, the official convention bureau for Dubai.

Prior to joining the Dubai Convention Bureau, Steen was a director of the Copenhagen Convention Bureau for 8 years. Steen is actively engaged in the global meeting industry. He has served on the Board of Directors of International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) since 2008.
In 2011, he was Appointed 3rd Vice President of ICCA. He has also served on the Board of Directors of Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC).
From 2003 – 2007, Steen was chair of BestCities Global Alliance and today he serves on the Board of Directors of BestCities Global Alliance.

1. When you say Dubai, the first thing that crosses your mind is – luxury. Where is the place of business events and meetings in that story?

It’s no secret that Dubai is a destination of choice for those seeking luxury and glamour, but the city is keen to show the world it also offers great value to business and leisure tourists alike.

The emirate’s philosophy is that today’s business visitor is tomorrow’s leisure tourist.

Dubai as a city is ever evolving, and is actively moving beyond the superlatives to establish itself as a vibrant destination with a quality and diverse tourism offer and a range of attractions to suit every type of traveler.
Our tourism stakeholders at present are making a big push to build more mid-market hotels and attractions in the city, and by doing so, Dubai is maturing into its role as a global city that is as welcoming as it is accessible.

From hotels to meetings venues and transport options, the emirate is keen to show it maintains world-class standards in every category that it caters to, from seven-star luxury to affordable three-star value. In order for Dubai to become a truly international city, we need to attract more and more visitors with a class-leading and wide ranging offer for all budgets.

Business Events
Business Events

At present Dubai’s infrastructure is such that doing business in, and from the city is easy. There are hundreds of hotels which offer a plethora of flexible business facilities – whether that’s simply a meeting room for 10 people or a convention for tens of thousands.

And of course, this is all supported with the expansive facilities offered at the Dubai World Trade Centre  – the host for over 50 per cent of all exhibitions in the Middle East region.

2. Do you have strategy for attracting meetings and events in a way to make it more achievable? What are the main markets for Dubai, when we talk about it as a meeting destination?

As the city’s official convention bureau, Dubai Business Events promotes Dubai’s business events offer through a number of different activities, and most recently began hosting large scale study missions that regularly bring international decision – makers to the city so we can showcase everything we offer.

This strategy allows people who are well placed to recommend Dubai as a destination for major events to meet with potential partners from the public and private sectors and get a feel for the energy in the city.

Dubai is maturing into its role as a global city that is as welcoming as it is accessible.

Bringing decision makers into Dubai and showing them the city first-hand is an important part of our strategy as it also dispels a lot of misconceptions about the emirate quickly and effectively, such as worries that Dubai is too expensive for delegates or that the city is somehow unsafe because it is in the Middle East.

Another equally important component of our strategy is to go abroad to meet decision makers and we do this by participating in trade shows, sales missions, and client workshops in key markets around the world. In addition, we have offices in four regions – London, New York, Sao Paulo and China – in Beijing and Shanghai.
These offices are important in terms of reaching out to decision makers as well. As for where events come from, it is safe to say they come from all over the world and many are global conferences initiated by associations usually based in Europe or North America.

In terms of volume, however, the majority of delegates come from the GCC, followed by delegates from India and increasingly from Africa.

3. What do you consider as main advantages of Dubai for events and business tourism?

In terms of infrastructure, Dubai has excellent air connectivity with two international airports connecting hundreds of destinations across six continents.

Hotels abound and meeting venues range from the cavernous halls that make up the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) to the numerous ballrooms and meeting rooms that at are present at almost every hotel in the city.

In addition, the local transport options include the metro, taxis, buses and chauffeured cars, as well as the recently launched tram network, making it extremely easy to get around.

To cater to all kinds of visitors, Dubai is increasing its already world-class destination offering across attractions, infrastructure and services to enhance the overall visitor experience.
The emirate is also working to leverage Dubai’s position as the business hub of the region and further highlight Dubai’s credentials as a global business destination.

To do so, it is increasing coordination across stakeholders, improving the current business tourism offer by grow existing events into mega events, creating new events in identified sector gaps and making Dubai a dynamic hub for major conventions.

Furthermore, Dubai is increasing business tourists’ use of leisure touch points and is encouraging visitors to extend the length of their stays and return for leisure trips.

The emirate’s philosophy in this regard is that today’s business visitor is tomorrow’s leisure tourist.

Finally, the city is aiming to maintain and increase the amount of independent business travelers by adding value to their visits, and making sure that Dubai is the easiest place to do business.

4. Can you tell us more about Dubai Association Center?

Dubai Association Centre (DAC) is a legal entity which licenses the formation of non-profit, professional associations and trade bodies in Dubai.

It was founded by Dubai Tourism, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI), and the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) and will help drive the next stage in the emirate’s development as a center for the global meetings industry. The establishment of DAC is also part of a long term plan to attract international associations to set up shop in the region and consequently strengthen Dubai’s role as a knowledge hub across all economic sectors.

What many people who haven’t experienced Dubai don’t realize is, that beyond the aspirational aspect, how accessible it is from a logistical and budgetary point of view for both leisure and business travelers.

We have successfully registered 12 internationally associations over the past one year since the center was formed, and are looking forward to welcoming dozens more in the coming period. Dubai’s aspirations to grow from a regional business and events hub to an international one will be further strengthened by a strong knowledge economy which, in turn, will naturally bring economic benefits to the emirate.

Dubai’s geographic position between cities such as New York or Washington in the US, Brussels in Europe and Singapore in Asia means it is uniquely positioned to offer associations a hub to serve Middle Eastern markets as well as those in Africa, South Asia and the CIS States (Commonwealth of Independent States).

All this, of course, will steadily add value to the emirate’s meetings industry as many more international associations with offices in Dubai would be willing to host their events here once they get a feel for everything we have to offer as a premier business events hub.

5. What was the most challenging event for Dubai Business Events so far, in terms of bidding and in terms of realization?

We haven’t had a ”most challenging” event as such, but do face challenges as a destination when bidding for events.
A key challenge for us is changing potential visitors’ perceptions of Dubai.


The emirate is known globally as a world-class destination, a place of record breaking firsts, where anything can happen and where it often does.

What many people who haven’t experienced Dubai don’t realize is, that beyond the aspirational aspect, how accessible it is from a logistical and budgetary point of view for both leisure and business travelers.

Also, given our location, we always need to ensure that we are consistently relaying what a stable and open destination Dubai is, with over 200 na­tionalities living and working in the emirate.

We have successfully registered 12 internationally associations over the past one year since the center was formed, and are looking forward to welcoming dozens more in the coming period.

To address these concerns, all our communications, be it direct liaison during the bid process to wider communications, reflect the diversity and depth of our offer and the benefits of Dubai as a holistic business destination.

6. Your favorite dish in Dubai?

Dubai has an amazing array of restaurants. A visiting delegate would be hard pressed to see even a small fraction of the best places this city has to offer. With that being said, choosing a favorite dish is extremely hard. La Serre Bistro & Boulangerie at Vida Downtown Dubai hotel, however, has an incredible breakfast menu, which includes a delectable scrambled eggs with smoked salmon.


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