Arabia, particularly the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman, is home to many extraordinary things. Here we’ve got the tallest, the biggest, the longest, the grandest, the most amazing… It is no surprise really that, with every component of MICE comes an extraordinary experience. This includes even what is thought to be the most overlooked part of a programme – transfers.
Getting from Point A to Point B doesn’t always have to be the usual coasters and chauffeur-driven sedans. In this age of flying taxis (in the works in Dubai!) and driverless cars, there is a wide range of exciting options you can choose from. Complete the Great Arabian experience with an unforgettable ride. How?
Here are some ideas:
Take your transfers to a different level – literally. Go for a seaplane trip that not only gets you where you want to go but also treats you to an aerial tour of the city. How cool is that?
Seaplane tours are part of staple excursion offers in the UAE. It is a 20 to 30-minute scenic flight across the city that provides passengers with a stunning aerial panorama of the destination’s landmarks. For MICE, charters can certainly be done. We pick and choose where we want to go, provided that landing strips are available and necessary permissions are granted. Currently, there are three sea planes that can accommodate approximately nine people each (subject to weight).
Based on experience, these sea planes can be chartered for the following:
- From Dubai or Abu Dhabi to Sir Bani Yas Island (or vice versa)
It usually takes a four-hour drive to get to this protected sanctuary of free-roaming Arabian wildlife. A sea plane flight, on the other hand, takes just an hour or so.
- From Dubai or Abu Dhabi to the east coast emirates of Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah
These two emirates feature a host of adventures and idyllic mountain scenery, a brief getaway that can be combined with a programme in the city. In getting there, forget the four-hour drive, let’s do the hour-long sea plane ride.
- It doesn’t have to be a long drive, groups can enjoy even shorter flights: For example, instead of riding a coach, let the guests take the plane and arrive in style at the capital’s Emirates Palace even if they’re just coming from the Yas Hotel on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi (which is just a 30-minute drive away).
This sea plane transfer option is highly flexible. A lot more flights are certainly possible. Have a look at your upcoming programme and see if we can squeeze in a fabulous ride in between!
Helicopter rides are highly similar to sea plane flights. They take you up in the air, give you an aerial tour of the city, and get you to your destination. Private charters are also available.
In a normal helicopter adventure, the flight is 12 to 22 minutes long with an option to go for a spectacular night tour where the skyline is all lit up!
Helicopters are smaller in size and a typical one can accommodate anywhere from two to five people (a larger one is available, though). Its main advantage over sea planes is its flight flexibility. There are a lot more helipads in the destination, allowing helicopters to land in places where sea planes cannot.
It is also ideal for VIP transfers. Imagine executives who may have a conference in Dubai but have a meeting in Abu Dhabi with the local office: Rather than taking two hours by road, you can take the helicopter for a far quicker transfer.
Or perhaps you would want to give top winners of an incentive programme a posh arrival at the awards ceremony, via helicopter is always a wow-worthy choice.
Both the helicopter and sea plane transfers are an effective prelude to what could soon be the norm in Dubai. The city is now doing test runs of its pilotless flying taxis and its launch is slated for 2020. Definitely something to watch for!
Since we’ve got fabulous land and air transfer options, we ought to have an excellent water transport as well, right? Of course we do!
We have plenty of boats (of every kind) in the destination. We can arrange for yachts for an awesome cruise along the coastline of Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Dubai even has a few Catamarans that can be chartered for corporate events. Full catering can be arranged; although some caution is necessary as all yacht charter companies are not allowed to serve alcohol on board.
In addition to the standard yacht and catamaran, one option that would certainly fit the budget is the fleet of ferries of Dubai’s government-run Roads & Transport Authority (RTA). These ferries can be found at key locations on the Creek, Dubai Marina, JBR and the coastline where we could hop on or off the ferry.
These boats are part of the city’s public transportation. They are fully air-conditioned with fairly comfortable seats. They also come in different sizes with the largest ones accommodating up to 100 people.
Ferry rides may figure in group tours in a variety of ways. After a Dubai City Tour, for example, guests can take the ferry on their way to lunch somewhere near the Creek. For trips to Dubai’s World Islands, you can save on cost by doing the transfer via the RTA ferry instead of hiring a yacht.
Of all the options listed here, perhaps this is the most unique and quite out-of-the-box.
A Harley Davidson tour for a group usually means an exciting road trip that cuts through the skyscraper-lined city, toward the mountains of the northern emirates or across the country on roads flanked by the beautiful desert landscape.
It is an experience of a lifetime. Guests could either be the drivers themselves or passengers riding with professional drivers.
On top of the tour, Harleys can also be used for transfers. We can take the gala dinner experience up a notch: instead of having a coach waiting for guests at their hotel’s driveway, we’ll have roaring Harley bikes all lined up and ready to whisk them off to the venue.
This is an awesome surprise for the guests, a perfect photo opportunity, and a surefire way to rock the entire show!
Anybody who has ever read up on Dubai and the rest of Arabia must have known that ultra-luxury cars are a common sight on this side of the world. The patrol fleet of the Dubai Police features a Rolls Royce, a Mercedes Benz, an Audi and more! So let’s just say transfers via luxury cars are part of an immersive experience of the Arabian lifestyle and it is the perfect choice for VIP guests.
These vehicles would usually be an Audi A8 or the BMW 7 series, which are commonly available in the market. We can also use Mercedes Viano or Sprinters for slightly larger groups, and, of course, stretch limousines would be the most stylish option for groups of eight to 16.
Gulf Dunes says ….
Transportation is indeed an important and necessary component of any programme and the normal options available in the market serve this purpose well. Using different types of transportation, however, adds that element of surprise for the guests or effectively expresses utmost care and attention for the VIPs. These extraordinary options add colour and depth into the programme in simple ways and without having to stretch the pocket.
Gulf Dunes is always on the lookout for something different and whenever the programme requirements and budget allow. It is our SOP to try and incorporate slightly different options into the mix. So in our next proposal for you, watch for the creative twists Gulf Dunes is known for!
Although this cannot be used for regular transfers from Point A to Point B, getting in a hot air balloon basket is one of the best ways to see the majestic landscape of the desert.
A special hot air balloon desert tour could even come with a falcon show. Imagine falcons flying through the sky and against the breath-taking backdrop of the golden sand dunes.
We start the tour early in the morning, taking guests from the hotel to the desert where the balloons await. Then off we go for the flight, floating in the sky wherever the wind takes us.
Upon landing, gourmet breakfast amidst the dunes follows, and then the rest of the day’s schedule unfolds. An amazing start to any day of a programme, don’t you think?
While we’ve got an excellent range of modern, state-of-the-art transfer options, remember that the Arabian experience will not be complete without a touch of the rich traditions of the Bedouins, the desert wanderers.
In any activity or event in the desert, a camel ride is a staple. What an experience it is to cross the desert on a gentle camel’s back, just like how Bedouins used to do!
Our standard desert experience takes guests to a sunset reception area where everyone can enjoy a falcon show and have a drink while watching the sun go down behind the dunes. From this spot to the camp site, a short five-minute 4×4 transfer is required. Instead of riding the 4×4 vehicles, we can definitely use camels.
An ideal caravan is usually made up of just about 20 to 30 camels, which means this is best experienced by smaller groups of 50 to 60 people (two per camel). Once everyone’s ready to move to the camp (just before it gets dark), we bring in all the camels lined up behind each other in a camel train. We can even have an Arabic drummer on the first camel to make it a musical camel train. All the camels sit on the ground and guests are invited to sit on the camels, which would then lead them to the entrance of the campsite.
Camels are not allowed on roads, though. After all, a ride is best experienced with the camels right in their home where they can sink their feet in the soft, amber sand of the desert.