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Dubai: Disney World on steroids

KelliPeople often ask me, “So what is Dubai like?” Dubai is one of those magical places. Unless you actually go, it is so hard to describe. I often say, “It’s Disney World on steroids.” Anything you want, you can essentially have.

Feel like downhill skiing for the day? Head to the Mall of the Emirates for a bit of indoor downhill skiing fun at Ski Dubai. How about a day at the Dubai Mall for some scuba diving in the giant aquarium? Don’t forget the man-made Palm Islands or going to the top of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. You also can’t forget the dining options: from U.S. staples like Chili’s, Applebee’s, Chuck-E-Cheese and Chicago’s own Garrett Popcorn, to cuisines from all over the world, the possibilities really are endless.

Flying to and getting around Dubai is fairly easy. If any of you are lucky enough to fly Emirates Airlines, I highly suggest it. It is true luxury in the sky, even in coach. When you arrive, take note of the different customs lines (no Visa is needed for Americans in Dubai). If you fly business class, you can go through a special line, and there are also other lines for those needing visas, not needing visas a variety of other choices.

The currency in the UAE is the Dirham. Currently, the USD is worth more than the Dirham.

While there isn’t a special dress code for women, I do suggest dressing conservatively for hot weather. Most women wear jeans and often long sleeve shirts even though it is 95+ degrees most of the time. If you choose to wear shorts and a t-shirt, that is no problem. Just make sure they are tasteful. If you plan to visit a Mosque, you must be covered head to toe.

Taxis are metered, safe and relatively inexpensive while the new Dubai Metro is actually cheaper and convenient. Women: there are “Women and Children Only” cars that I highly recommend taking advantage of. They are the least busy of the cars and you actually have a bit of breathing room. While you are allowed in the other cars of the metro, these are often packed like sardines and very warm. Men: be careful, the Metro Security will kick you out of these cars and the women can become rather vocal about your presence in them.

While life itself is fairly easy to navigate in Dubai, how easy is getting tradeshow floor work done? Pick the right partner and your experience, like always, will be significantly better.

Dubai, like most places in the world, is more of a build and burn culture. The show hall during install looks just like it does in Europe, Korea, Taiwan, etc. Saws are going, painting is happening and a raised floor is common.

Ordering show services from the venue can often prove difficult. I always seem to have an issue with Internet and power. Make sure to have your receipts and confirmations with you, as you will likely need them to prove you paid for your service. It is not uncommon for them to forget to lay your Internet either, but should that happen, there is a store that sells prepaid Internet cards within the Dubai International Convention and Exposition Centre (aka the Dubai World Trade Center).

As always, be careful with your product, especially at the close of the show. Things have a tendency to walk off. Overall, though, the convention center is very clean, and like most things in Dubai, a work of art.

There are two hotels within the center and a plethora of real restaurants to choose from as well as a couple small coffee shops and food carts. The metro drops you off across the street from the door and the Dubai Mall is just two stops away.

Hands down, my favorite convention center and location yet.

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