DUBAI PARKS AND RESORTS
This is yet another mammoth Dubai project: more than 230 hectares, with over 100 rides, shows and attractions across three theme parks: Motiongate, based around blockbuster Hollywood family movies; Legoland Dubai, complete with 60 million Lego bricks; and Bollywood Parks with an 850-seat theatre equipped for full-scale musicals.
There is also a kilometre of riverfront and a 500-room Polynesian-themed hotel, run by Marriott. The park is set to open in October, and has a wide range of MICE options, including partial and exclusive usage.
Luxury tours and safaris include wildlife drives in beautifully restored open-top 1950s Land Rovers, within the restricted Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. There is no environmentally damaging ‘dune bashing’ allowed here, but instead the chance to have close encounters with wild oryx. Our drive was followed by falconry demonstrations, camel rides and dinner under the stars in a solar-powered Bedouin desert camp – complete with barbecue and traditional dishes washed down with camel milk, dancing and shisha pipes. The company offers a range of private corporate and bespoke itineraries for planners.
Dubai-based corporate team-building specialist Turnaround offers creative, strategic and educational challenges in its range of activities.
On this trip, our group of more than 80 delegates was divided into small teams, each supplied with a GPS and 3G-enabled tablet.
Throughout the four-day event, the teams competed to complete a range of tasks on the tablets, from answering quiz questions – either location-specific or based on the content we were learning – to taking pictures of landmarks and recording group videos.
At a gala dinner, the teams’ audio-visual efforts were played on large screens (often to much amusement) and prizes were given to winning teams and individuals.
This is an interesting, low-key, cerebral option, which can involve learning and debate around history, cultural sensitivities, perceptions, religion and politics.
The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) is a non-profit organisation with the motto ‘open doors, open minds’. A typical event might start with a delicious traditional Arabic breakfast, while the host explains the ingredients and rituals, with their roots in Bedouin hospitality, or the origins of coffee in 15th-century Yemen – think ‘Arabica’ beans.
Discussion can then move on to a range of issues, tailored to the organisers’ requirements. In our session a female delegate was dressed in the various versions of traditional women’s clothes including abaya, hijab and full-face niqab while we discussed the history, culture and gender politics involved. The conversation continued on a walking tour of the historic district, learning about heritage and architecture before visiting a traditional mosque.
As well as public observation decks on levels 125 and 148, the Emirate’s most iconic building also offers private event spaces. The highest is on level 112 (almost 500 metres up) and with 990sqm of space it can accommodate up to 250 people. Event organisers can set a stylish tone, as guests enter via the Armani Hotel before riding fast elevators to the exclusive Corporate Suites lobby.
The Annex is relatively lowly, on the 11th floor, but has more than 2,500sqm of space, and at this level the dancing fountains make an eye-catching backdrop for evening events. Both options have outdoor terraces and ‘blank canvas’ flexibility for a variety of layouts and set-ups.