It is the morning that Dubai’s ruler HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has announced plans to extend the emirate’s Business Bay canal to create a 2.8km waterway stretching across the city and Rupprecht Queitsch, general manager for the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai couldn’t be more pleased.
“It will actually be stopping right by our hotel,” he tells Arabian Business. “It’s going to be really nice along Safa Park… and we’re either at one end or one beginning,” he adds.
News of the $408m project — which has since been somewhat usurped by last week’s announcement that the city will also embark on a vast tourism and retail project called Mohammed Bin Rashid City — is yet another sign that Dubai has recovered its commercial ambitions after its crippling debt crisis three years ago.
Tourist arrivals in the emirate increased ten percent during the first half of the year while hotel revenues rose nineteen percent. Property prices are starting to rebound in some areas of the city and the region’s political instability continues to attract funds from investors seeking a safe haven.
One of those other signs that the city has started to thrive is the opening of the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, a $490m two-tower hotel owned by Emirates Airline. The five-star hotel, which — once fully opened — will add 1,608 rooms to the city’s inventory, features 804 rooms as well as fourteen food and beverage outlets and the Middle East’s largest function room. While the hotel officially opened the doors on its first tower in October, Sheikh Mohammed last week ordered the start of the second phase of the hotel.
Unlike many of Dubai’s other luxury hotels, the JW Marriott Marquis, will play a key role in the emirate’s ambitious plans to become a top destination of choice for the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry.
The sector is already big business for cities such as New York, London and Paris (a recent study by the US Convention Industry Council found that the US meetings and events sector supports 1.7 million jobs in the US alone). But a lack of hotels and conferencing spaces large enough to cater to the vast number of delegates that international conferences attract means Dubai has lagged behind its competitors.
The opening of the JW Marriott Marquis is expected to significantly boost Dubai’s position in the industry, says Queitsch. “That’s the purpose of the hotel [to host] either corporate meetings, incentive meetings, any kind of meetings,” he says.
“Dubai currently is not in the world’s top destinations for conventions so we are building this up. We have a large convention coming in January for 700 rooms for five nights, which is business that typically would not have come to Dubai, so now we are competing with the likes of Lisbon, Madrid and Berlin,” he adds.
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