January 12, 2020 | 10 min read
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Why host a conference in the United Arab Emirates?

Dubai Burj Al Arab - Event venue and hotel

UAE is a global tourist destination and an international growing economy. The country boasts a wonderful environment for tourists as well as the ideal environment for entrepreneurs and businesses to invest. United Arab Emirates has one of the most liberal trade regimes in the Middle East which provides a strong incentive and is a powerful catalyst for growth and development in the region.

The government aims to establish UAE as the top destination for businessman and international companies alike. The objective is pursued by strong focus on international meetings, exhibitions and conferences to improve the country’s reputation as the great location for investment opportunities and growth.

UAE is the most popular contry in the Middle East and Africa for regional headquarters of Fortune 500 companies. According to The Economist more than 80% of Fortune 500 companies, have established a presence in UAE.

In the fall of 2021, Dubai is set to host a number of landmark events which includes the marquee Expo 2020 which is expected to attract a record-breaking business growth, participation and attendance. Commencing on 1st October 2021 the event will be the largest in the Arab world and is set to welcome participants from over 190 countries.

The seven emirates

The United Arab Emirates comprises of seven emirates. The emirates include Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Ajman, Umm al Quwain, Ras al Khaimah and Sharjah. Each emirate follows their rules and regulations. One of the key strengths of United Arab Emirates is sharp focus on economic diversification. This includes development in the different industries and sectors such as trade, banking, tourism, service and manufacturing. The secret to consistent growth has been a strong and stable political system, excellent infrastructure and banking processes. The biggest strength of the Emirates lies in its multicultural diversity. The culture is driven by Islamic values with a integration of traditional values and modernity. This has resulted in n ecosystem which respects and celebrates values/traditions of the residents and tourists from all over the world. In fact, the year 2019 was declared the Year of Tolerance to cherish status of UAE as a global hub of peace, harmony and diversity.

Infrastructure for business events and international conferences

The UAE government is working with industry stakeholders to develop a framework which can ensure that international business events are regularly organized while ensuring that health and safety of the participants are prioritized.

An IMF report from October 2020 has forecast the UAE's nonoil real GDP to grow 3.0% in 2021.

The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) lists 23 members in the UAE out of the 53 in the Gulf/ Middle east region. There are 15 ICCA members in Dubai, and 6 members in Abu Dhabi.

English is widely spoken and used in business.

In the fall of 2021, Dubai is ready to host a number of landmark events which includes the marquee Expo 2020 which is expected to attract a record-breaking business growth, participation and attendance. Commencing on 1st October 2021 the event will be the largest in the Arab world and is set to welcome participants from over 190 countries. The global event is emphasizing on opportunity, mobility and sustainability to create a lasting legacy which will transform the culture of innovation and architecture worldwide. Besides the marquee Expo 2020, there are other important international events going to take place in 2021 which include Annual radiology Meeting, The Airport Show and the Cityscape 2020 Real Estate Summit.

With the world slowly emerging from the challenges of global pandemic, United Arab Emirates has been at the forefront of tackling socioeconomic and health challenges with determination, courage and vision. Economic sectors have gradually reopened with sustainable actions taken to enhance business activity and minimize socioeconomic impact of the pandemic.

Mingling and connecting between the participants is one of the most important parts of the conference world. To be honest, many people attend conferences to mingle and connect with others. Normally participants of a conference can easily make connections with people that they would not normally connect with outside the event. Therefore this was a crucial challenge for us to ensure that our participants have easy access and can connect with important people and the guest speakers. The Eventact platform provided us with chat rooms, video meetings, and messages with other participants and speakers during the event. The famous saying “there is no second chance for the first impression” still exists even today with this platform for online conferences.

Dubai - Tolerence Bridge

Dubai

In 2018, Dubai is the premier destination for business meetings in the Middle East and Africa region. Dubai has over 740 hotels with over 120,000 rooms and more than 200,000 sqm of conference and exhibitions centers.

Dubai International Airport is the is the world's busiest airport by international passenger traffic. It connects Dubai to 159 cities with non-stop flights.

According to statistics, Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) has hosted over 400 business events in 2018 with an influx of almost 3.5 million delegates.

Dubai has numerous attractions including the Burj Khalifa the worlds’ tallest structure 829.9 m, Burj Al Arab hotel built on a man-made island, The Dubai Fountain, world’s largest performing fountain. Giant malls.

Dubai Business Events

Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce has formulated business events stakeholders committee to facilitate international business events in the UAE. Among the committee companies are professional congress organizers (PCOs), exhibition organizers, and DMCs like Alpha Destination Management and MCI Middle East, Expo 2020 Dubai, Venues and airlines like Emirates, Dubai World Trade Centre, Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts.

Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce created a special division known as Dubai Business Events which is the official convention bureau. Delivering free and impartial advice tailored to event organizers needs. The bureau checks and recommends the available venues that would be most suited based on the nature and scale of the business event. DBE receives quotes and proposals from different venues/ service providers and short lists them based on the event’s specific requirements. The chosen site is inspected to ensure they are of the best standard. Seamless support is provided at the event site such as formulation of social and activities at the event. To further enhance the event experience Dubai Business Events also assists in development of pre-event and post-event programmers and provides complimentary visitor guides for delegates. Other notable points include the opportunity to connect with industry professionals and government representatives. Other important services include holding hotel reservations and handling public relations.

DBE partners with both public and private partners such as Dubai World Trade Centre, Fly Dubai and Emirates Airlines as well as other industry members to strengthen Dubai’s reputation as a global hotspot and business hub. Dubai has hosted numerous international events such as Academy of International Business Annual Meeting and Annual Congress of the Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology just to name a few.

Dubai Event Permit and fees

Events in Dubai require a permit from the Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). The permit can be obtained online thought the DTCM e-permit portal. The permit fee is calculated based on the event type and size . Events that require registration need to send attendee data and ticket details to the DTCM e-ticketing system, get a barcode and print it on the attendee badge. The badge is scanned on arrival to update DCTM system.

See Dubai event permit

Abu Dhabi at twilight

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the 2nd most popular destination for business meetings in the Middle East and Africa region. With unique facilities and structures that include Ferrari World, Yas Marina Circuit, Al Ain Convention Centre and Abu Dhabi Green Garden City, and Etihad Towers Abu Dhabi one of the most spectacular event destinations in the United Arab Emirates.

Abu Dhabi has hosted an array of international events such as International Diabetes Foundation, World Urban Forum, World Ophthalmology Congress, World Future Energy Summit, and the Global Forum for Innovations Agriculture, IDEX the largest defense exhibition and conference in the Middle East, IBTM Arabia a meetings and events industry trade show.

Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre

The National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) is the largest exhibition center in the Middle East. The International Convention Centre (ICC), the emirate’s largest indoor auditorium, can seat up to 6,000 people and hosting biggest indoor events for business meetings.

Abu Dhabi Convention and Exhibition Bureau

The Abu Dhabi Convention and Exhibition Bureau offer business solutions such as provision of local expertise and planning events. A support team has been established to provide end to end services in collaboration with the industry and tourism leaders. Similar to Dubai, Abu Dhabi Convention and Exhibition Bureau recommends venues for business events, Public Relations and marketing support as well as pre and post conference activities. These initiatives are in line with “Advantage Abu Dhabi” as part of the 2030 Economic Vision. The vision is to foster a highly competitive and sustainable business environment with excellent tourism and meeting facilities making Abu Dhabi a global hub for organizing large scale business events.

Abu Dhabi Event License

Events such as exhibitions, conferences, training courses, workshops in Abu Dhabi required a permit. In additional to the event permit each speaker (including presenters or trainers) needs to be approved before the event. Speaker applications fee (2021) is AED 200 + AED 50 for approved speakers. There is a 10% fee charged from the total ticket sales. Organizers must use a ticket system to print tickets with barcodes provided by Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and tourism system.

See Abu Dhabi Event License

8 Practical Tips

Dress conservatively.
Both woman and man are expected to cover everything.
Shaking hands
Shaking hands with opposite gender is less common. When meeting with opposite gender wait for them to reach out for a handshake first.
Use your right hand
Use your right hand when greeting and eating. Traditionally left hand was used for cleaning and can be considerd not clean.
Behaviour in public places
Public display of affection is considered offence to public decency. Technically it is illegal for unmarried couples to share a hotel room but regarding foreigners it is very unlikely that this wiil raise an objection.
Drinking alcohol
Drinking alcohol is allowed in specfic licensd places only. Drinking alcohol in public or being drunk in public is considred illegal. Driving with any amount of alcohol is illegal.
Diffrent working days
Working days in the UAE are Sunday to Thursday.
Arabic
It can be nice to use both English and Arabic in business cards, brochures and marketing material.
Networking
In-person meetings, friendships are important step in building professional business relationships.
Referrals are great way to connect to or associate with influential people.
Best month
Avoid the 4 weeks of Ramadan. December to April - Best Weather but the most expensive months for accomodaiton.
May - average day time temprature is 31°C / 87°F. June - average day time temprature is 39°C / 103°F July to August - Hot weather. low internatioanl flight prices in July. September - Average day time temprature is 39°C / 103°F, Low accomodation cost, Low flight cost, October -Average day time temprature is 36C / 97°F November - average day time temprature is 31°C / 87°F. Low price for flights, hi price for accomodation.

Doing business in UAE

Dubai Buisness United Arab Emirates is one of the most business friendly countries globally with a high level of focus on economic generation and innovation. The UAE is ranked 16 on world bank ease of doing business report of 2020.

There are different types of business licenses available to investors depending on the nature of business and industry. The business licenses are divided in four main categories. These include Professional, Commercial, Tourism and Industrial licenses. The commercial license is available for businesses that are performing trading activities. The industrial license is applicable to companies which are manufacturing and processing goods. The professional license is most suited for consultancy related businesses in multiple fields of activities. The fourth type of license is the tourism license which is issued for businesses which are involved in providing tourism services for the ever-growing number of tourists visiting the UAE every year.

There are three main business jurisdictions in the Emirates. These include Mainland, Free Zone and Offshore companies. The businesses are regulated by the Economic Department of each emirate. The jurisdictions have its set of laws and business regulations which need to be adhered to. Selection of jurisdiction is dependent on nature and scale of the business activity. In a mainland company a local partner is required by law if the business has commercial or industrial license.

Free Zone companies

The rules governing Free Zone companies are different to the mainland companies. The Free zones jurisdiction allows 100% foreign ownership on companies and export/export tax exemptions. Free Zone companies are allowed to operate within the confines of the jurisdiction and are restricted to the activities mentioned in the trade license. Registrations of Free Zone companies are relatively simpler than mainland ones and the amount of investment required is less compared to mainland registration.

Offshore companies are another popular form of business in the Gulf region. There are three jurisdictions in the offshore sector which include Dubai, Ajman and Ras al Khaimah. These entities are ideal for facilitating trade internationally. They are also outside the scope of Value Added Tax and Customs. Offshore companies are not allowed to operate and trade in the local market. Registration of offshore companies is simple and offers business man lot of incentives such as profit repatriation, savings on tax and complete foreign ownership.

Once the business jurisdiction is decided, the next step is identifying and registering in regards to scale of your business. This is called company structure. Business entities are divided into multiple activities which include LLC (limited liability Company), Sole establishment, Company Branch (Local, GCC, Free Zone or Foreign) and Holding Companies.

Once an investor decides their preferred business jurisdiction, the next part of the process is deciding name of the company. The companies must follow the naming convention which complies with law of the country. Names which are forbidden or may be religiously offensive are strictly prohibited. If the name of a person is included in the business, they must be partners in that business. Upon finishing the legal paperwork and submission of documents, the investor will receive their business license after which the process of opening bank accounts can begin which is a hassle free and straightforward process.

Visas for businesses

For investors in the UAE, visa is required which is a fairly simple process. Three years investor visa is available on business registration. There are two more types of visa which are for the duration of 5 years and 10 years respectively. These visas do not require the need for sponsorship. To acquire 5 years visa, the business project must have a minimum capital of AED 500,000. The 10 years route or the ‘Golden Visa’ has been made more accessible this year due to the dynamic policies of the government which provides unparalleled opportunities and sense of security to the investors. Business visa is an important part of the initiative of the Golden visa regimen where businessman may obtain visa for themselves and their dependents. The eligibility criteria for business visa is a person that has set up a business at some point in their career and are attempting to do the same in the UAE.

Conclusion

With excellent support services and world class infrastructure it is a stop choice for international conferences and business.

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