by Maya Dollarhide | September 30, 2016

Dubai conjures up images of luxury and skyscrapers, but this once-sleepy port city on the southeast coast of the Arabian Gulf is far more than glitz and glitter. Dubai is home to a rich mix of Arabian, Persian, and Islamic influences blended with a diverse foreign population -- and the opportunities to create a unique incentive reward experience are seemingly endless.

Groups can take in the 360-degree views at the 160-story Burj Khalifa skyscraper and marvel at the ancient city's 21st-century infrastructure. Incentive-worthy experiences include indoor skiing at Ski Dubai, plus a wealth of other activities at the Mall of the Emirates.

The city is also steeped in rich cultural experiences. Sales incentive winners should jump at the chance to haggle at the Arabian souks in the heart of the commercial district, roam the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, and learn about Bedouin culture at the Dubai Museum.

"Industry stakeholders have been working passionately to put Dubai on the map for international incentive travelers," says Charlie Taylor, group director of brand communications for Jumeirah Group, a Dubai-based luxury hotel chain. "Dubai is centrally located in the world, easy to get to, and a great alternative to other options for a host of reasons."

It may seem far, but Dubai airport is the world's third-busiest, with more than 125 airlines servicing more than 260 destinations, making it highly accessible but still exotic. This gateway city to the East and West has plenty of places to stay -- at last count there were over 100,000 hotel rooms.

Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts frequently welcomes incentive travelers.


The sailboat-shaped
Burj Al Arab Jumeirah

The sailboat-shaped Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, a luxury hotel located on a small island off the city's shores, is commonly incorporated into incentive programs for special welcomes or gala dinners, according to Taylor.

He believes there is a global misconception that Dubai is overly expensive. "While luxury products are certainly available, we always tell our clients that Jumeirah can offer rates from $200 to $2,000 across our eight hotels. We work to accommodate all budgets."

There is so much to explore and the city continues to develop at a rapid-fire pace. Case in point, according to Gulf News, the city is set to launch 16 projects this year and in early 2017, including a wild animal safari park, the world's largest Ferris wheel, and a sprawling food and fish market with more than 770 kiosks selling spices and other local specialties.  

"Dubai is such an inspirational destination with a clear vision that transformed it into today's international business, leisure, and arts/lifestyle hub," says Taylor.  

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This article appears in the September/October 2016 issue of Incentive.