Emirates leads the way to Dubai growth

The government and companies of Dubai have announced a string of marketing initiatives to counteract fears about the Middle East.

Three decisions in the past week form the basis of a campaign to boost annual visitor numbers from four million to 15 million by 2010.

Political and business leaders believe the country's reputation must be changed from a stop-over hub to an international destination.

Emirates, Dubai's national airline, has signed up to become a sponsor of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

The first airline to be an official FIFA sponsor, Emirates believes the agreement will change its image from a Middle East carrier to a global brand. The airline also announced a 25% increase in seat capacity last week.

At the same time, Dubai's civil aviation department agreed a year-long advertising campaign on business TV channel CNBC Europe.

From February 18, the campaign, through agency RudaizkyRyan, will attempt to convince business leaders that Dubai is a centre for commerce and finance.

And, at last week's Business Travel Show, hotel giant Hyatt announced it was opening the Grand Hyatt Dubai, the Middle East's biggest conference and incentive venue, on March 15.

"Dubai has come a long way from being a trading port. Its safe environment, infrastructure and liberal policies makes it the ideal place for business and entertainment," said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, chairman of Emirates and president of civil aviation for Dubai.

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