When IATA, The International Air Transport Association, assembled in Dubai for the very first time for it’s yearly World Travel Symposium they thought they knew what to expect. This year however they were in for a surprise, as the Arabian Adventures, Meetings Incentives and Events team had been tasked with organising their final night gala dinner. The challenge? To give a diverse group representing 200 airlines and 117 countries a magical insight into all that the beautiful UAE has to offer.
Under an air of mystery, delegates were transported in a fleet of luxury coaches through the streets of Dubai - past the world’s tallest building and the iconic man-made islands of the Palm Jumeirah, and out into the haunting landscape of the Rub’Al Khali - the legendary Empty Quarter. There, amidst the dunes, many rising to 200 metres in height, they discovered their final destination – the ancient and beautiful Al Lisali fort, surrounded now by a village of traditional Bedouin tents containing everything they might need for a truly memorable night; from a fully equipped bar, to a shisha lounge with comfortable Majlis seating, and shaded gazebos in which to enjoy the truly unforgettable view.
In a unique twist, the arriving guests were greeted by cabin crew from Dubai’s very own flag carrier, Emirates Airlines, armed with refreshing cold towels and crisp Veuve Cliquot champagne, before exploring the grounds and experiencing traditional Arabic activities that included falcon displays and camel racing. Guests were then served dinner from a staggering choice of local and international cuisine; from prime lamb meatballs braised in onion and tomato sauce, to grilled gulf seafood. Then, after enjoying a choice of local desserts, came the main event itself - an Arabic fusion show of music and dance, both ancient and modern, designed just for them, before the best show of all finally began – the sun setting over a rippling dune sea.