20231130 cop28
Hotels, fine dining places and limousine operators are all feeling the boost as COP28 opens in Expo City. It will only get better in the coming days. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: A major event is all set to deliver a ‘bounce’ to the Dubai and UAE economy for a third successive year, with COP28 opening and local hotels, prime shopping destinations and fine dining restaurants all benefiting with immediate effect.

And the demand on luxury limousine fleets and chauffeurs? Unprecedented is what fleet operators are saying. (The rates for these services are also on the upward path, industry sources say.)

It’s the COP28 ‘bounce’ alright, and following the path laid by 2021’s Expo run (with December proving exceptionally busy) and the gains flowing in from Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA football World Cup from mid-November 2022. (The World Cup matches saw fans staying at hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and then flying over.)

"While there is undoubtedly a short-term positive impact on the aviation, tourism and hospitality industries, the long-term impact is the soft power that UAE has permanently gained as the host of COP28," said Suvo Sarkar, a former banker at one of the biggest financial institutions in the country and currently a business owner.

It will make UAE the regional hub of climate finance and alt-energy technologies.

- Suvo Sarkar

The COP28 event - a meeting point for global heads of state, industry chiefs and other influential stakeholders – in Dubai is already rated as being the biggest of the United Nations backed series to date. But outside of the discussions centered around climate change and how to bring it down to manageable limits, COP also provides the host city with a major lift for the economy.

A price 'surge' is showing up across the service industry, most notably on car hires.

Hotel occupancy push past 90% - and staying put

Prestige hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are already nudging well past the 90 per cent occupancy mark for this weekend, (including, of course, the additional day off from the UAE Union Day celebrations).

“Occupancy is almost at 100 per cent and with room rates too on the high-end,” said Raju Shroff of Signature Developments, which owns the Taj hotel in Jumeirah Lake Towers. 

The city is buzzing with delegates and visitors for COP28. And another good platform for Dubai to showcase what the city has to offer.

- Raju Shroff of Signature Developments

Another hotel industry source concurs with the sentiment. “By September itself, we had a clear idea of what the bookings for November 28-December 15 will be like,” said the operator of a super-luxury hotel on the Palm. “If anything, occupancy will come in higher.

“The usual end-of-year boom Dubai enjoys is coming early this year.”

In the last quarter alone, our bookings increased by 200%, indicating a growing interest in sustainable luxury mobility. We're not just offering a service but are part of a movement towards a more sustainable future

- Nicolas, General Manager of Blacklane Middle East, which recently took in Mercedes EQS-SUVs

Restaurants are full

Decided to head out to a fine dining restaurant this weekend? If you haven’t booked, chances are you will not be getting a table.

F&B operators say it’s a combination of the Union Day weekend as well as opportunities coming through thick and fast from COP28 delegates that will fuel the rush. “Fine dine options in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are up for an exceptional week, and which should extend to another week or two.”

There is a boom on for service businesses in Dubai
Just about every service-focused business in Dubai has been feeling pull from the COP28 preparations and, now, its opening.

Deepika Vachhani is founder of Creative Space Studio, a full-service branding agency in Dubai.

Although the company is not directly involved with COP28, subcontracted tasks have poured in, including the creation of banners, exhibition package design and production, website development, and social media content for companies participating in the event.

We've had to significantly increase our staff strength as a result," said Deepika. "Depending on the nature of the work, the size of the client, and the scope of the project, our earnings range from Dh1,500 to Dh150,000 for both short- and long-term contracts.

- Deepika Vachhani of Creative Space Studio