Dubai Business Events sees growth in destination weddings, focuses on the crucial Indian outbound market


Dubai in recent years has grown to become a cosmopolitan yet charming MICE destination. Dubai’s range of world-renowned hotels, venues and suppliers as well as the city’s ease of access for global markets has proven to be one of the key reasons why this city has become a popular host destination for business meetings and events.

Steen Jakobsen, Assistant Vice President, Dubai Business Events spoke exclusively with Travel News Digest regarding how Dubai Business Events is aiming to tap the booming the Indian market.

How important is the India market for Dubai Business Events?

The Indian market is of significant strategic importance to us, thanks to its contribution of business visitors to the city. India has been the top source market in terms of overall visitation to Dubai since 2015, building on historic ties with the country, its proximity, as well as the city’s ease of access.

The importance of the market is emphasised by the fact that Dubai Business Events (DBE), the city’s official convention bureau, has a dedicated office in the market, through which it continuously communicating the evolution of our city’s proposition to planners and meetings industry professionals across the country.

What are your promotional and marketing strategies for the Indian market?

In addition to the efforts of our permanent office in India, Dubai Business Events embarks on a number of activities and initiatives to reach meetings planners and buyers in India and drive growth from the market. This includes sales missions across key cities, where our team are joined by stakeholders from Dubai to present some of the latest offerings, as well as inbound study missions which allow planners and buyers to see first-hand the possibilities for their events here. In terms of our wider strategy, we focus on not only highlighting the hygiene factors which make Dubai the ideal city to host events in, but also the growing knowledge clusters that businesses and organisations can tap into, as well as the activities, culture and heritage on offer here.

Which are your top three markets in India?

The key segments for us in terms of groups coming from India are incentives, corporate meetings and destination weddings. For incentives and corporate meetings, sectors that we see particularly strong inflows from include pharmaceuticals, automotive, financial services and FMCG.

What are the new and upcoming facilities for the MICE segment that DBE is offering?

Dubai is home to an increasing number of unique and attractive business events facilities. Among these is the Coca-Cola arena, one of the most recent additions to the city’s portfolio of event venues. The 17,000 seats indoor arena is located in the heart of Dubai at City Walk, a mixed-use destination with different hospitality, food and beverage, entertainment and retail options for attendees to enjoy before and after events. Coca-Cola Arena is capable of holding international sporting events as well as large scale business events.

Another major events venue is the E2 Dubai South Event & Exhibition Center. Located in Dubai South district, E2 is a short drive from the world’s largest airport in the making – Dubai World Central. With more than 40,000 sq m of exhibition space, it has been developed with a specialised understanding of the requirements of international business events.

Dubai is also prepping one of the most awaited venues the Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC) located at the Expo 2020 site, DECoffers a flexible and configurable space to accommodate all types of conferences, exhibitions and entertainment events with seamless access to the entire Dubai Expo 2020 site and 15-minute ride from a variety of hotels as well as its adjacent to Expo 2020 metro link.

One important recent development to note in Dubai has been the growth of the mid-market hotel segment, which has diversified the range of accommodation available to meetings planners. We know that planners are always looking for rooms across multiple price points and while Dubai’s luxury properties remain popular for groups, recently-opened hotels under brands such as Rove and Zabeel House by Jumeirah are examples of attractive options that can meet other budget requirements.

How many visitors did you receive from India in 2019 so far?

During the first five months of 2019, India retained its position as the largest source market with approximately 846,000 visitors from the country.

How many events from India did DBE organise this year from January to May?

DBE has worked towards and organised two study missions from India in the first half of 2019 – one in January with a group of wedding planners and the other in April for a group of corporate buyers. These were part of a wider calendar of inbound study missions from key source markets.

What are your promotional and marketing strategies for Expo 2020? How has the response been so far?

Under the theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, Expo 2020 Dubai is expected to welcome 25 million visits, with 70% anticipated to come from outside the UAE, all between October 2020 and April 2021.

We are working closely with the team at Expo to promote the business events opportunities during the six months of the event, ensuring that planners and meetings industry professionals are made aware of the Expo offerings. In addition to being able to bring their groups to visit the Expo site and explore the various national and thematic pavilions there, planners will have the unique opportunity to host events at the site itself in the Dubai Exhibition Centre.

Are you looking at tapping into any new markets in the near future?

We are always exploring new markets that are of interest to the overall tourism and business events strategy, tapping into all possible opportunities to drive further visitor growth. Considering we have a strong presence in India, we are agile enough to identify and tap into the latest trends and demands of other markets as well. One particular segment we have already identified as one with potential for significant growth is destination weddings and India is, of course, a crucial outbound market for this.