For European, Asian and Middle Eastern companies, Dubai is a preferred destination. It's unfortunate that few U.S. and Canadian companies have have taken advantage of its truly unique experiences for incentive travel.
Dubai isn't just the emirate featured on CNN with runaway real estate development and the world's tallest building (Burj Khalifa). It has a Bedouin tradition, a rich cultural heritage, traditional and modern event venues and many attractions to make life easy for event planners.
It's best for groups to begin their journey in Dubai's heritage section. Visit the gold souk, Dubai Heritage Village and the former home of the current ruler's grandfather. Travel across the Dubai Creek in an Abra to see traditional architecture, mosques and explore the Dubai Museum.
Until the Japanese cultured pearl industry emerged, pearl diving was a pillar of the local economy. Groups can still arrange dinner cruises on the Dubai Creek in the ancient Dhows. Select from traditional Arabic or gourmet continental menus. View the eclectic mix of traditional and more modern architecture with an Arabian feel, introduced before the real estate boom.
To truly understand Dubai's heritage, a desert safari is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Introduce groups to the thrill of dune bashing, a feast fit for a sultan, belly dancing and shisha. For a truly memorable experience, camp out overnight in a Bedouin-style camp.
After emerging from the desert, explore modern Dubai. Chose from luxury 5 Star hotels or one of the budget hotels that have recently opened. Ski at an indoor ski resort in an area that was once in the middle of the desert. Sip hot chocolate at an ice cafe. Get a panoramic view of Dubai by helicopter.
Customize itineraries with horse riding in the desert, team events on the beach, abseiling in the mountains, tandem sky diving, hot air ballooning and golf.
The broadest range of activities are accessible between mid-October and mid-April when temperatures are comfortable. As this destination is popular in the European market, be sure to lock in your plans at least 2 - 3 months in advance. With direct flights from New York and Toronto to Dubai and nearby Abu Dhabi, Dubai is much closer and more affordable than many companies realize.
Photo Credits: Dubai Incentive Travel, Executive Oasis International