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Dubai plays the perfect host

posted on 25/09/2003: 1814 views

Years of preparation and months of frantic activity ended last night as the curtain came down on Dubai 2003, but the lessons learned and benefits earned from the mega event will last well into the future. On a global level, the 16,000-plus delegates who arrived in the city will carry back with them news and impressions of Dubai, its achievements, facilities and the warmth of its peoples to all corners of the world. But perhaps more importantly, the world's largest financial meeting highlighted the importance of unity between the UAE's diverse populations.

From the thousands of nationals and expatriates working side by side at the convention centre to the millions of others going about their daily business around the emirates and cooperating to ease traffic flows and security considerations, Dubai and the UAE showed this week that by working together, its people can achieve anything they set their minds to.

"Everyone in the UAE was involved with making this conference a success," Qassim Sultan, Chairman of the Dubai 2003 Organising Committee and Director General of Dubai Municipality, said yesterday. "Everyone helped in one way or another, whether here at the convention centre, at our airports and hotels, or in their own homes."

More than 4,500 people from around the UAE were directly involved in and around the convention centre, arranging transport, providing security and hot meals, registering delegates, issuing press releases and answering visitors' questions. The toughest jobs were also the least publicised: those police and army officers standing outside in the September heat for up to 12 hours a day to guarantee the safety of the visitors inside; the transport coordinators, drivers and parking lot attendants manning the transit points to ensure everyone got where they needed to and when they needed to; and the hundreds of support people within the building involved with catering, cleaning, maintenance, tech support or copy services.

In addition, organisers culled the crème of the nation's financial and social crop, recruiting student volunteers from national and private universities, and seconding government staffers from a variety of departments to ensure a smooth flow. Yousef and Zafar Al Bloushi, part of Dubai Police's crack 26-member squad, began training for the meetings more than a year ago, lifting weights, learning criminal psychology and running in thick beach sand until they achieved peak fitness levels.

Despite being fully trained for any eventuality, they were thankful that everything went smoothly, and thanked their colleagues from police departments around the emirates for helping make the event a success. Financially, the billion dirhams invested in Dubai 2003 - Dh650 million for the convention centre, the remainder on logistics and arrangements - will yield returns for years to come.

The city has already recovered the major part of its investment by creating revenue opportunities for the tourism, transport and business sectors and boosting the overall economy, said Ahmed Al Banna, assistant general coordinator. "If you consider an average of 15,000 visitors staying for three days and spending maybe US$2,000, that provides direct benefits for all of Dubai's business sectors, and pulls the economy further," Al Banna said. "That is return enough for us."

As clean-up crews dismantled microphone stands, packed piles of publications, folded tables and carried out computers last evening, many wondered if the substance of the meetings would also impact the host country. "Certainly, if there are recommendations relevant to the UAE, we will surely implement them," said Sultan, adding that Dubai 2003 staff would soon present a dossier of these recommendations to relevant government departments. (The Gulf News)


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