Dubai prepares to host the 24th edition of the DEAL Expo
Interview by Martin Palicki
ABOVE PHOTO: ECA2 booth at DEAL 2017. Courtesy ECA2.
In April 2018, the Dubai Entertainment, Amusement and Leisure (DEAL) Show returns to the Dubai World Trade Center for its 24th edition. InPark asked Sharif Rahman, CEO of International Expo-Consults (show organizers) what people can expect at this year’s show and in the region.
Why is DEAL particularly important for the themed entertainment industry?
Dubai has become a hub for theme parks and leisure zones and is setting an example for not only the region, but for the industry. Several theme parks operate in the UAE and more are due to open in 2018. This is the big step in the UAE’s tourism strategy and the single biggest driver of growth in the hotel market for the next five years. DEAL has been supporting the industry and its stakeholders, year-on-year and has grown with the market.
Do you find attendees to the show are coming from a wide variety of locations?
Visitors to the show come from various countries across the world including the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Diversity is observed not just in the geography but the profile of the visitors as well. You will observe the trade visitors include owners, managers, operating staff etc. from malls, real estate, architects, contractors, consultants, investors, tourism officials etc.
What types of venues are most popular in the Dubai region? FECs? Parks?
The biggest challenge for the industry is the weather. During summer months in the desert, temperatures are very high. FECs and indoor parks and venues provide shelter and entertainment for consumers in these months.
Most of the year isn’t favorable, climate-wise, for classic theme parks, and thus the industry is very cyclic in nature.
FECs have witnessed recent increases in popularity, having become an integral part of the shopping mall experience. The leisure and entertainment experience FECs provide in malls has encouraged repeat visits.
Are preparations for the 2020 world’s fair that will be hosted in Dubai having an impact?
Expo 2020 has been a blessing for tourism and for the entertainment and leisure industry. Due to preparations for this global event, Dubai has witnessed a huge increase in infrastructure development. With increased development of malls and hotels to accommodate the Expo’s expected 25 million attendance from 180 nations, the industry is set to grow in the coming years.
What should visitors be sure to experience while they are in the UAE?
Dubai is a top tourist destination in the region. There are a number of attractions that can be visited during your stay in Dubai. To name a few, you can go to the top of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, to catch a bird’seye view of the city. If in a mood to splurge, you can enjoy the underwater suite in the world’s only 7-star hotel – Burj Al Arab. Dubai has some of the best stretches of desert to go “dune bashing” or ride an all-terrain vehicle or a camel, after which you can enjoy a lovely dinner in a Bedouin camp and even spend a night in the desert. Dubai offers a variety of adventure sports like zipline, sky diving, water sports, scuba diving and other activities in some of the most beautiful beaches in the region.
Does the region’s changing political climate impact tourism and the entertainment sector?
The political climate of the region has minimal impact on the tourism and entertainment sector of Dubai. It is one of the most safe and peaceful areas in the world. Recently Euromonitor ranked Dubai as the most-visited city in the Middle East and placed it sixth in the world in the latest global ranking of tourist destinations. It is the only Middle Eastern city in the top 10 and is expected to attract more than 26 million visitors by 2025, overtaking London, which is currently in third place.
How should people register for DEAL and are there any offers for signing up by a certain date?
People who wish to attend DEAL 2018 can pre-register online at http://bit.do/DEAL2018. We will be running promotional discounts for airfare and hotel stay, via our website, and we will also be sharing details about the promotions on social media. On Facebook – @dealmiddleeast; Instagram – @dealiec; Twitter – @DEALIEC. • • •