It’s known for its year-round sunshine and glamorous nightlife, but there’s far more to the United Arab Emirates than swish hotels and skyscrapers. STAR Your World recently paid another visit to the region, to explore the best activities. From exhilarating sand dune races to sunset dinners, we discovered that both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have plenty to offer for international meetings and events.
Dubai The glitziest of all the emirates, Dubai is home to more than 130,000 hotel rooms. We spent a fantastic four nights at the Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel and the Hilton Al Habtoor City, soaking up the luxury.
After a few days spent discovering the hotspots, here’s what we think you should be prioritising.
1.) Seaplane tour One for the adrenalin junkies, we loved flying over the city’s famous landmarks and seeing the emirate from a different perspective. You’ll spot the famous Palm Islands, The Atlantis Palm Hotel and the iconic Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa. It’s a fantastic incentive activity for groups of up to 120, who can be split into smaller teams.
2.) Nikki Beach Club One of the original luxury beach clubs, we enjoyed a pretty sunset with a glass of bubbles overlooking the sea. Whether your group wants to party or relax, Nikki Beach can accommodate you. It’s a popular venue for live events, and can be hired out for groups from 150 up to 1,000 using the pool space.
3.) It’s not a trip to Dubai without a visit to the Burj Khalifa the world’s tallest building. Home to a fabulous range of event spaces and even more fabulous views, it’s a must-stop destination for any group. And if all that height starts making you dizzy, you can dust off your credit cards and head next door to Dubai Mall.
4.) Try Umm Ali When it comes to food, Dubai isn’t short of mouth-watering restaurants. One of our favourite dishes was Umm Ali, a traditional Arabian bread pudding. Freshly prepared at the JA Ocean View Hotel, you can get your sugar fix while you look out over the Persian Gulf.
5.) Friday brunch Bunch is a Dubai institution, and there’s hundreds of different options to try. Hell’s Kitchen at the new Caesar’s Palace Bluewaters Dubai offers free-flow drinks and culinary delights, the perfect choice for groups keen to enjoy some downtime after a busy conference.
Abu Dhabi The capital of the United Arab Emirates is a little quieter and more laidback than Dubai, but has plenty to offer for events. Renowned for being the region’s cultural capital, it’s the place to be for spectacular architecture, five star hotels, cruise port and luxury beaches.
6.) Observation deck at 300, Etihad Towers We stopped off for a delicious lunch with the team from Jumeriah hotels and Etihad Towers with a visit to the observation deck. Offering spectacular views of the city, it’s one not to miss.
7.) Louvre Museum Based on Saadiyat Island, The Louvre is one of the few museums that’s just as spectacular on the outside as it is inside. Popular for a half day incentive option, it’s close to numerous luxury resorts offering relaxation, fine dining and spa options.
8.) Yas Marina Circuit While Saadiyat Island is all about art and culture, Yas Island is all about the adrenalin. We visited Yas Marina race tracks where the F1 is held to check out the options for meetings and events. As well as spectacular hotels, groups can book event venues overlooking the race course for the added thrill factor and hospitality.
9) Ferrari World If you fancy trying out the fastest roller coaster in the world, you’ll get the chance in Abu Dhabi. One of the best parks in the world for car enthusiasts (and white-knuckle rides), Ferrari World is a fun destination for a corporate incentive or quirky event.
10.) Al Qasr Al Watan One of Abu Dhabi’s newest mosques, Al Qasar Al Watan is well worth a visit. Giving an insight into the region’s religion and heritage, it’s a great cultural activity for multi-nationality groups.
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