Dubai to expand conference capacity
Next year's opening of an international convention centre and the completion of numerous private sector developments will further expand and enhance Dubai's product proposition to meet an anticipated steep increase in future demand.At the end of September 2003, over 10,000 delegates are expected to visit the emirate to attend the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The existing 120,000 square metres of conference and exhibition space in purpose-built as well as hotel-based venues will expand considerably with the opening of the International Convention Centre (DICC) DICC in March 2003. It will be the region's largest convention centre, with seating capacity of 6,000 in the main auditorium and 44 breakout rooms. While there will be catering and retail outlets on-site, transfers to nearby hotels, such as the recently-opened Taj Palace, Dusit, and The Fairmont hotels, will be swift. In addition, part of the DICC development will be the 412-room Novotel and 210-room Ibis Hotel. Other plans for the conference and incentive market include the Grand Hyatt with 674 rooms, 186 apartments and state-of-the-art meetings facilities due to open in 2003, and a purpose-built conference centre as part of the future 900-room Madinat Jumeirah development, the first phase of which will be the 300-room Port Al Salam due to open at the end of 2003. Incorporating the region's culture and traditions, a unique resort will be the Hatta Heritage Village which will be located in the Hajar mountains. With the opening scheduled for 2003, the resort will cater for small incentive groups and meetings. Festival City, to be developed over the next two years, is expected to become one of the main icons of Dubai's skyline. Festival City developments will include hotels with meeting facilities, an auditorium, restaurants and many retail outlets. The world's largest man-made islands, The Palm Jumeirah, and The Palm Jebel Ali, currently under development, will create an additional 120 kilometres of beachfront, and provide space for 40 boutique hotels, all with beach access. Plans also include a marina and a Marine Park, as well as a hotel with purpose-built conference facilities in a unique and secluded environment. Year-round leisure travel to Dubai is flourishing and business travel to the emirate is growing constantly from the UK and Ireland. In 2001 the destination had 15 per cent more British and Irish hotel guests than the year before, totaling 355,542, and similar growth rates are expected for 2002. With an intensely busy 2002 calendar of over 80 exhibitions, Dubai is the region's prime location for international trade fairs.