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Mice Asia Net : July 2009
news middle east might story By Brad Foster AsiAn destinAtions will have to remain on their toes if they are to keep pace with the Middle east which is continuing its strong marketing drive despite the GFC. espite some negative publicity about Dubai of late in relation to falling real estate prices and construction of new hotels and facilities slowing, the city, like much of the Middle East, continues to push its unique selling proposition to the world. In a recent interview, director of business development and marketing for the Burj Al Arab – that incredible architectural icon perched on its own man-made island at Jumeirah Beach - Marie-Laure Akdag said business remained strong in the emirate. Ms Akdag said like everywhere else in the world Dubai had suffered as a result of the global financial crisis. Many proposed developments have been shelved for the time being, with those that had commenced continuing. But in terms of hotel occupancies, the destination was bouncing back strongly. She said the Jumeirah group recorded 70 per cent occupancies in February, 90 per cent in March, and April was fully booked. These are clearly figures that much of the rest of the world’s hoteliers would love to have a piece of right now. Whatever the reason, Dubai and nearby destinations including Abu Dhabi, Oman and the up-and-coming Qatar are forging ahead as many others are stumbling. The local market for hoteliers remains strong, but there remains a growing fascination with the Middle East region from travellers, and particularly the MICE market. And it’s not happening simply because of sheer luck. These regions D 6 miceAsia.net are putting their money behind what appears to be an everincreasing strategy of sponsorship programs, sales campaigns, and marketing strategies globally. The airline Emirates is a good example. The company sponsors a range of sporting teams and events and has naming rights status at some of the largest stadiums in the world. Emirates is an official FIFA World Cup partner, is sponsoring the Rugby World Cup 2011, and is a major sponsor of football teams including Arsenal FC in the UK, and Europe’s AC Milan. Further, Emirates has the official airline status of 12 golf tournaments, has the naming rights to Australia’s most recognised horse race, the Emirates Melbourne Cup, and is even a sponsor of Australia’s national cricket squad. Not far behind Emirates is Etihad Airways, the “national airline of the UAE”. Etihad sponsors the Ferrari F1 team, the Chelsea Football Club in the UK, has naming rights status of stadiums, and like Emirates, also sponsors golf tournaments and rugby teams. Keep discovering Educational programs – famils – are also playing a major role in marketing strategies of some Middle East destinations. Dubai, for example, proudly announced in June that it had successfully completed its “Keep Discovering Dubai” campaign which saw more than 2400 trade and media visit Dubai in less than two months. The campaign was, naturally, conducted in partnership with key