How Dubai is helping to drive the business travel recovery
With a 49 percent return to pre-Covid levels by 2022.
Expo 2020 Dubai
Already an established centre of commerce, Dubai is experiencing a surge in business travel due to Expo 2020 Dubai. Ever since the first World Expo, London’s Great Exhibition in 1851, the fair has provided a platform for innovation, trade and networking. A meeting point for global businesses, it takes place in a different destination every five years for a period of six months.
Expo 2020 Dubai – open from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022 – was postponed a year due to the pandemic, but as of November 2021, more than 4 million visitors have filed through its portals dedicated to the event’s themes of mobility, sustainability and opportunity.
Expo 2020 Dubai’s Thrive Together programme has been created specifically for the domestic and international business community. It offers an AI-powered app, facilitating business-to-business, business-to-government, and government-to-government meetings suggested based on users’ profiles, expertise and objectives. Thrive Together is also hosting a calendar of themed forums, delivered in collaboration with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“We, as organisers, have put together 10 theme-specific business forums that focus on the 10 biggest pressing issues that the world is facing today, like climate and biodiversity, water, food and agriculture, urban and rural development,” says Khalid Sharaf, Director of the Expo Business Programme.
Expo 2020 Dubai Chief of Staff, Nadia Verjee, adds: “As one of the first mega-events to take place since the beginning of the pandemic, Expo 2020 Dubai will be an important milestone for the global business community. It represents an unprecedented opportunity for businesses of all sizes, including SMEs and start-ups, as well as international organisations and government entities from across the world to come together to foster a more diversified, equitable and resilient global economy.
“Whether you’re a homegrown UAE-based business looking to expand, a budding entrepreneur wanting to share your ideas and build your network, or an overseas company looking to enter some of the region’s high growth markets for the first time, Thrive Together will enable you to unlock new opportunities.”
In line with Expo’s subtheme of sustainability, 80 percent of the site’s structures will be recycled as part of a new city within Dubai named District 2020. Billed as “a connected global centre for the next generation of innovators, original thinkers and pioneers”, it will become another business hub within the emirate.
One that’s already established, Business Bay is home to the UAE’s only five-star hotel with the capacity to accommodate up to 1,000 delegates, providing conference space, rooms and restaurants under one roof. JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai is just 25 metres shorter than the Empire State Building.
"over half the world's population can get to Dubai within six hours..."
JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai General Manager Bill Keffer believes Dubai has become a popular global business hub for several reasons. “I think the first reason would be the logistics of getting here. This whole area is supported by Emirates Airlines, which is one of the largest international carriers in the world, which means that over half the world's population can get to Dubai within six hours,” says Keffer.
“From a hotel perspective, there are 150,000 hotel rooms coming into this market, which gives us ample supply to take care of extremely large groups,” adds Keffer.
Keffer ranks Dubai in line with leading commerce and tourism destinations Las Vegas and Shanghai. Like these ‘bleisure’ (business and leisure) centres, Dubai offers the business traveller ample perks, from upgrades using points accumulated on the Emirates Skywards loyalty programme, to five-star pools and spas providing a luxurious antidote to jetlag.