Dubai: Dubai is the city to do business in. Hold events and conferences. Have fun. Get adrenaline rushes watching sporting events.
And a city to get married in. Yes, Dubai is stepping up as one of the choicest destinations to host by-invitation-only weddings for the world’s rich, the celebrities, and even by those who want to have an intensely private occasion with friends and families. But spare no expenses while at it. (Want to let the world know you are getting engaged? Spread the word using the Burj Khalifa facade…). It’s natural progression as far as Laila Suhail is concerned. “Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism is working tirelessly to cement Dubai’s position as a leading global events hub, whether that’s large-scale corporate and commercial events, or private events and celebrations such as weddings, anniversaries or ceremonies,” said Laila.
“As with all DET initiatives, we are working alongside our valued city stakeholders and partners to bolster our event offerings, but also to increase awareness and consideration for Dubai as a destination for weddings and milestone celebrations.”
Based on information flowing in from hotels and other sources, a couple of such super high-profile weddings have already taken place in the city, with more lined up towards the final weeks of the year. By nature, these weddings are extremely private, of course, unless the couple involved go to town about it. Those following such trends say that the best indication would be when global corporate titans or celebrities are spotted about in town. Chances are they are invitees for these weddings.
The efforts have been paying off “Examples of DET’s efforts to enhance Dubai’s reputation as a leading wedding destination range from the number of wedding planners who have flown to the city to gauge Dubai’s wedding venue scope, to key thought leaders from the city attending global wedding trade shows and events,” said Laila.
From barefoot ceremonies on the beach, to sky-high celebrations overlooking iconic landmarks, to alfresco receptions in the heart of the Arabian desert, Dubai is an ideal destination for wedding ceremonies, celebrations and honeymoons. There is truly something for everyone here.
Apart from making Dubai known as the place to be, the Department of Economy and Tourism does lend inputs to helping with all the add-on processes of hosting such an event.
“Dubai has long been the wedding destination of choice for celebrities, tastemakers and key opinion leaders seeking to celebrate their love in one of the world’s most welcoming destinations,” said Laila. “The city is also a leading destination hosting events in unique venues that offer memorable lifetime experiences.
“Arabian-themed desert weddings, luxury celebrations, beach ceremonies, exclusive yacht vow renewals and opulent ceremonies also add pomp and splendour to a celebration of love in front of family and friends.”
Put all these together, and a wedding in Dubai does make a lot of sense. Add in a bit of geographical advantages - gateway to the East and West - and the reasons get amplified. In other words, what makes Dubai a special sort of place to do business is good when it comes to the equally serious task of arranging a heavy itinerary wedding.
“In addition, the clear guidelines related to permits and the vast experience of the city’s destination wedding planners make planning a dream ceremony in Dubai a breeze,” said Laila.
Hard numbers back that up. “The Middle East destination wedding market is worth $4.5 billion according to Colliers International, with the UAE the most favoured location in the region to get married,” the CEO said.
And there are ways to do it across budgets. “When opting for a Dubai-based venue for a wedding ceremony, you can expect to receive a premium package or experience for a similar price point to other destinations around the world,” said Laila. “According to research published in March by Strictly Weddings, Dubai is the No 1 global destination for weddings in the sunshine - whether that is an intimate beachfront vow exchange, a secluded desert celebration, or an affirmation of love at a lavish resort - across a range of price points.”
Scale up? Or keep it intimate?
For an ideal wedding and celebration spot within Dubai, the choices are many - Laila Suhail makes a point of emphaising that.
“There are numerous smaller locations throughout the city which have grown to become more popular,” she said. “So many recently engaged couples gain inspiration from others and contact venues to generate similar experiences for their own weddings. As Dubai is a destination which is ever evolving, with new venues, restaurants and service providers popping up from month to month, the wedding sector continues to evolve with the ever changing hospitality market.
“In terms of having a unique and distinctive wedding, the extremely skilled wedding teams throughout the city are able to offer entirely bespoke experiences based on any specifications provided by the couple.”