by Hunter R. Slaton | October 01, 2009
Over the Hump

For a unique team-building activity, try camel polo, arrang­ed by Dnata Travel Ser­vices.

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Local Update
The 318-room Kempinski Hotel Emerald Palace Dubai is scheduled to open at the end of next year, following the spring opening of the Kempinski Palm Jumeirah Residences, with which it will share grounds on the breakwater that surrounds the incredible Palm Jumeirah island development. All 318 rooms at the Emerald Palace will feature views of the sea, and the property also will offer a 1,640-foot-long private beach, a fitness center and spa, a business center, several restaurants, a shopping arcade and an as-yet unspecified amount of meeting space.

A new affordable business hotel, the 246-room Centro Barsha, a Rotana property, opens this month near the Mall of the Emirates and Internet City. The hotel offers the Taste restaurant, the Mondo bar and a shop called Deli. The property will have two meeting rooms, a gym and a pool.

Two more new midpriced hotels opened over the past year near the Mall of the Emirates: a 204-room Ibis property and the 180-room, all-suite Suitehotel.

Last May, the 186-room Qamardeen Hotel, near what will soon be the world's tallest building, the Burj Dubai, opened a new suite of meeting rooms. The property now has four boardrooms (with capacities of 24 to 30 people) and a larger room that can seat up to 180 theater-style.

Set to open this month is the new 260-room Media One Hotel, near Dubai Media City. Designed as a stylish business-travel property, it occupies the first 23 floors of a 43-story tower. Features include an outdoor pool, a gym, restaurants and bars, a business center and seven meeting rooms.

Dubai World Trade Centre, which incorporates the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, is scheduled to complete an expansion called the Sheikh Saeed Halls by the end of this year. The project will add four interconnected halls, including the Trade Centre Arena, a fully air-conditioned venue that will accommodate concerts for up to 10,000 people. When the expansion opens, DICEC will have a total of about 1 million square feet of exhibit space.

The new Al Maktoum International Airport, a 30-minute drive from the convention center, is under construction and projected to open in June 2010. When finished, it will be capable of serving 160 million passengers per year.

Meeting Hotels:
The largest properties include the 1,539-room Atlantis, the Palm; 867-room Madinat Jumeirah, the Arabian Resort; 674-room Grand Hyatt Dubai; 598-room Jumeirah Beach Hotel; 568-room Crowne Plaza Dubai; 500-room Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa; 498-room InterContintental Dubai Festival City; 414-room Hyatt Regency Dubai; 400-room Jumeirah Emirates Towers; 394-room Fairmont Dubai; 393-room Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates; 389-room Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort; 383-room Le Méridien Dubai; 352-room Grand Millennium Dubai, and 316-room Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City.

Convention Center:
The Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre; exhibit space, approximately 1 million square feet; number of meeting rooms, 30.

Entry/Exit Requirements:
For stays of 30 days or fewer, visitors to the United Arab Emirates from the United States are required only to have a valid U.S. passport.

Time Zone:
Dubai is eight hours ahead of Eastern Stan­dard Time.

Airport Transit:
Dubai Inter­national Airport, a 15-minute drive from the convention center. Transfer cost by taxi, approximately US$11

The United Arab Emirates (and, by extension, Dubai) uses the dirham (AED). At press time, US$1 was equal to 3.67 AED.

Dubai hotels charge a 10 percent municipality fee plus a 10 percent service fee, for a total of 20 percent on top of the total bill.

Group Venue:
The Majlis Gallery in Dubai's old Bastakiya district is one of just a few traditional Arabic wind-tower houses still standing in the city. Such structures were designed to keep their inhabitants cool in summer by way of a tower that catches and circulates breezes throughout. Now an art gallery, the venue can host cocktail receptions or dinner, in either the rooms of the gallery itself or (between October and May) the spacious courtyard, open to the Dubai night sky. The courtyard can accommodate up to 100 guests for a reception or 40 for seated dinner. (011) 971-435-3623;

Dubai De­partment of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, (212) 575-2262;