I was recently fortunate enough to be invited by a number of Dubai MICE businesses to experience one of the world's leading incentive and meeting destinations, the City of Dubai during the Dubai Rugby 7’s Tournament. As a guest of Emirates Airline, Jumeirah Hotels, The Representation Company, All About Flights and Dubai DMC 24 Degrees, we were royally entertained throughout the 4 days and got an excellent overview of what the city now has to offer the UK corporate incentive market.
Leaving from Heathrow, we were lucky enough to be upgraded both ways to Emirates Business Class on an Airbus38O which I have to say is wonderful. The seats were comfortable and spacious, the entertainment offer excellent, the food delicious and the staff very friendly – they really couldn’t have made the 6-hour flight any more enjoyable. Gone are the days when flying was a chore – this was all part of the fun, and I loved the time in the bar – which made the flight whistle by.
We were spending our first two nights at the Jumeirah Mina a Salam within the spectacular Madinat area – a 5 sq miles hotel village comprising three lovely properties linked by a river that means you can move between them all by boat – a bit like a gondola in Venice. The hotel is lovely; charming reception areas and high-quality bedrooms, all with nice views overlooking the spectacular Burj Al Arab.
Having had a quick nap to recover from the flight we were scooped up by bus and taken to the Dubai Marina and on to a very smart yacht for a trip around the bay. This is a great way of seeing the City from offshore and getting your bearings and a perfect icebreaker for a group.
And then it was back for a good look round the whole Madinat resort by boat and a site inspection of the famous Burj Al Arab. This is a very spectacular building and the newly built outside area and beach facing infinity pool are fabulous. The hotel itself is clearly impressive – made up of 125 two floor suites and some very dramatic banqueting rooms, all decorated in classic Arabian splendour…i.e. a lot of gold…I gather it is being given a facelift next year so is likely to be brought a bit more up to date, so I look forward to a return trip then.
After a late night in one of the 6 nightclubs/bars on the Madinat property, it was an early breakfast and a viewing of the latest hotel in the Jumeirah collection – the magnificent Al Naseem Hotel. This really is a very special property, an ultra luxurious, contemporary spin on an Arab theme. The décor is stunning, very chic and clever – with lots of really lovely small touches. The bedrooms are large and airy with super cool bathrooms and all have sea views – I can’t think of many nicer rooms in any hotel I have stayed in. Meeting space is impressive, private dining rooms very smart, restaurants excellent and plentiful.
Then it was off to the Dubai Polo Club. This is a fun activity and his very tame ponies are perfect for the horse shy, giving us a safe half hour trying to hit the ball around the pitch – it is a lot harder than it looks! The polo experience is well worth considering as a group activity. It is very well put together, Steve is hilarious and it has that cache of being something very exclusive that virtually no-one has ever tried.
On to our next destination – The Dubai 7’s Rugby Tournament. The Dubai 7’s is one of the world’s biggest and best International Rugby Events, held every year in the first week of December. We were very graciously invited as guests of Emirates and were royally entertained in their private hospitality area, mixing it with a number of rugby legends – including possibly the greatest rugby league player of all time – Martin ‘Chariots’ Offiah. The hospitality facility and package was exceptionally good and any sports fan would have loved the rugby – fast paced and thrilling.
And then it was off for our final evening, as luxury jeeps picked us up and hurtled us across the desert once more. We headed out for about 40 minutes before turning off into the sand and making the most of the 4 wheel drive up and down the seemingly endless dunes. This is good fun and quite exciting, with the drivers keen to show off and plenty of space in which to do it. They ended up in the magnificent desert hotel called the Al Maha, which is very special – a series of remote private lodges with stunning views over the desert and private pools and dining areas. For an exclusive use group this would be a sensational place to stay for a night.