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Bigger, better, and always evolving. The whole essence of Dubai is to make the impossible come to life. It’s no wonder that this group incentive travel destination is Cvent’s #1 sourced destination in the regions of the Middle East and all of Africa. If you haven’t already, please check out the first blog of this destination series focused more on the overview of Dubai and what makes it tick. This time, we focus on how to best structure a group meeting or incentive travel program for this fabulous city. From man-made islands in the shapes of palm trees to an indoor ski resort that’s steps away from the desert sun to old city Dubai and its rich culture, it’s hard to know where to start in planning corporate incentive travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Brightspot is here to help with some of our top recommendations.


Burj Al Arab seen from madinat jumeirah in Dubai UAE.


When it comes to hotels, the question really isn’t where to stay but how do you choose? I was blown away by the sheer quantity of high-end luxury group/MICE hotels to choose from. From homegrown brands such as Jumeirah (13 amazing hotels in Dubai alone) to internationally recognized brands like St. Regis, Four Seasons, Fairmont, and of course representation from the big players Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott, each property I visited almost seemed more grand than the last. And on top of that, the overall level of service within the destination will surely exceed your expectations even for brands you may associate with a 4-star level property. Luxury is simply the way of doing business here, meaning there is truly something extraordinary for groups of all shapes, sizes, and budget parameters.

Sunrise from Room Window at Atlantis Dubai.

The host property for our group was the Atlantis Dubai located on the very tip of the famous Palm Tree Island. Despite common misconceptions, this property is not associated with the Atlantis Bahamas property and has separate ownership and protocols. Though this property is family-friendly, it proved itself to be a solid 5-star hotel. My guest room was large and luxurious and views of the sunrise each morning from my window were some of the most beautiful I have ever seen in my life. There was something special to the mix of the water and gorgeous cityscape that showcased the Burj Khalifa peeking through to greet me each day. I was also very impressed with the banquet food not only from a quality perspective but also from the creativity of the presentation and menu creation as well. The Atlantis is a beach property and faces inward to the palm branches of the man-made island. Within the property they have several large resort pools, a tastefully located waterpark, great outdoor event space, plenty of onsite dining and shopping, and one of the largest aquariums in the world standing at over 33 feet high and 65 feet wide with over 65,000 marine animals. Talk about memorable when your attendees stumble upon that on the way down to breakfast! For guests who want an adults-only experience, the newly opened Atlantis Royal is located directly next door and is WOW, WOW, WOWZA! The sunset view overlooking the Palm and the city shoreline from their Cloud 22 rooftop bar was one of the most memorable moments of my time there. Truly unforgettable!

The Atlantis Royal Rooftop Bar, Cloud 22.


Within the destination, there are plenty of options for exclusive activities for your groups to do and experience that fit the many different preferences of your attendees and your budget. However, we feel it would be a “miss” not to include at a minimum these two options.

Sand Bashing on Desert Discovery in Dubai, Wise Monkeys Productions LLC.

Must Do Activities

  • Day/Evening in the Desert – A truly one-of-a-kind experience. Pick the group up from the resort in off-road vehicles and take them out and bash into the depths of the desert for afternoon activities such as sand boarding and camel riding. Then escort them to an outdoor setup for appetizers and a champagne toast as they watch the sunset on the desert horizon, before lastly bringing them to a traditional campsite for dinner under the stars sampling authentic local cuisine while experiencing interactive entertainment, henna tattoos, and even a hookah bar.
  • Day Trip out to Abu Dhabi – Only 1 hour from Dubai is the neighboring Emirate city of Abu Dhabi. Treat your guests to the photo op of a lifetime at the gorgeous all-white Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and visit the Qasr al Watan Palace. You can stop off for some lunch at Emirates Palace and even let your top executives take the luxury vehicles for a race at Ferrari World while the attendees place bets on the winner. A full-day group activity but worth every second.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

Other Activities to Consider

  • Visit Burj Khalifa – Proudly claiming the title of the tallest building in the world, give your group the opportunity to head up to the observation deck for one of the best views in Dubai.
  • City and Culture Tour – Contrast the futuristic side of downtown with the cultural old city center giving your attendees a glimpse into the history of the area along with a visit to the Spice Souq and Gold Souq markets for some authentic local shopping.
  • Visit the Museum of the Future – transport your guests to the future for an opportunity to experience simulations of solutions to modern-day issues such as global warming, human health, sustainability, and technology innovations.
  • Ski Dubai – With options of a little as 2-hour increments, strap on your skis or snowboard and get the opportunity of a lifetime to ski at the world’s first indoor ski resort BUT while in the middle of the desert.
  • Speed boat experience – it’s been said the best place to see the city is from the water especially if you opt for a sunset cruise. You will quickly learn how someone can see a Mirage in the desert when you see the mix of hazes and colors against the modern downtown cityscape which is truly unique to this part of the world.

Brie Richards on the Indoor Ski Slopes at Ski Dubai.

Factors to Consider

But alas, as with most exotic destinations, there are unique factors your group needs to consider prior to pursuing this destination as your next company trip.

  • How to get there – Flight Times
    • #1 busiest airport for international travel with over 190 connecting destinations so connectivity is not an issue and truthfully airfare prices were surprisingly affordable – comparable to most North American to European destination ticket prices.
    • Most flights arrive late evening to the middle of the night. I was shocked to find that the airport looks like DFW at 10:00 am though most were arriving between 8:00 – 12:00 pm (especially for US participants)
    • Event Planner Suggestion: For arrivals, consider dropping a charcuterie amenity in the room as many flights will arrive late evening. This lets them have a bite to eat in the comfort of their room after the long journey. Then open registration the following afternoon to allow people to sleep in and enjoy the resort before the opening night Welcome Reception on Day 2
    • Event Planner Suggestion: For departure day, since most flights leave in the evening, your last day can actually be used to enhance the program! Opt to give your attendees a meal allowance for lunch and a day to enjoy the resort pool. Be sure to secure a few sleeping rooms for them to freshen up in prior to their departure to the airport as the final touchpoint of a great trip.
  • Ideal Length of Stay
    • We would recommend a 4-night minimum, but 5 to 6 nights are ideal due to the nighttime arrival/departures and the opportunity to allow guests to acclimate to the time change and really experience the destination.
    • Event Planner Suggestion: Extend the length of your trip to allow yourself to be able to take the group out to Abu Dhabi and avoid having to make your attendees have to choose between Abu Dhabi and a local Dubai activity. Trust me, they are going to want to see both!
  • Once in a Lifetime
    • Most people would likely not be able to travel to this destination on their own, so you are truly creating a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is sure to make a lasting impression and create loyalty which is the ultimate return on your investment.
    • Event Planner Suggestion: Give your attendees the opportunity to extend either in Dubai or neighboring countries. Many within the group I was traveling with were taking advantage of the fact they were fairly centrally located between Europe, Asia, and Africa to hop on a quick flight to another one of their personal bucket list destinations. Go the extra mile and even put together a list of recommended destinations, tips on how to get there, and places to stay once you arrive to help give them the boost they need to pull the trigger on indulging in the extended personal travel of their dreams.

Men In Traditional Thawb Dress Playing Qawalib Music at the Welcome Reception, Wise Monkeys Productions LLC.

I think it’s important to note that as travel evolves, I do sense that some of these factors may not be as much of a deterrent to the modern traveler as many have accepted that what you sacrifice in convenience you surely gain in experience. I think as event professionals, it’s our job to come up with workarounds on how to overcome these factors within travel incentives and still create an amazing attendee experience they are sure to remember. From experience, it’s been weeks since I have been home, and I am still buzzing with excitement. In fact, I can’t tell you the number of people who have told me Dubai is top of their wish list as well. With a travel destination that is truly as immersive of an experience as this, it makes it well worth considering for your next meeting or incentive trip.

Are You Ready to Start Planning?
With its remarkable attributes, incomparable service at its luxury properties, and an array of thrilling excursions, Dubai emerges as a top contender for your next incentive travel program. Our team of experienced professionals is ready to assist you in seamlessly coordinating all the logistics, guaranteeing your group an unforgettable experience. Discover more about the exceptional services we provide or get in touch with us today to begin planning your extraordinary Dubai program! 

Take the first step towards creating an extraordinary incentive travel program in Dubai. Our team of experienced professionals is ready to assist you in seamlessly coordinating all the logistics. Don’t wait any longer – discover more about our exceptional services and get in touch with us today to start planning your extraordinary Dubai program. The adventure awaits!

Brie Richards

Author Brie Richards

Brie specializes in hotel and DMC sourcing, contract negotiations, building relationships with hotels and industry partners, and establishing processes internally to help all of these functions run efficiently and effectively. She has been with the Brightspot for almost 10 years and enjoys looking for new and creative destinations and experiential ideas for our client’s programs. As a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), Brie loves to take her clients to the next level.

More posts by Brie Richards