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Shared Ownership Fractional Summit MENA: sand and deliver
Date: 2011-11-24 23:53:04
The Fractional Life events team (Piers, Tracey, Jeremie and myself) returned to the UAE earlier this week for our second conference in the region. Last year's inaugural Shared Ownership Fractional Summit MENA, held at Abu Dhabi's Yas Hotel, kicked things off to a good start. This year we upped the ante by holding the event at the iconic Burj Al Arab in Dubai, the world's only seven-star hotel, and it turned out to be an eventful couple of days.
A sleepless evening flight from Heathrow saw us land in Dubai at 08:30am, and proceed bleary eyed to our accommodation at the smart Bonnington Tower in the Jumeirah Lakes district. After unpacking and sorting out a few last minute conference details, we were met for a tour of the development by several of our delegates, courtesy of Arabian Falcon Holidays which sells vacation onwership in the building.
The tour was followed by a 4x4 safari in the desert, with our drivers throwing the impressive Toyota Land Cruisers around at high speed up and down some seriously steep sand dunes. It was great fun, although Jeremie was looking a little green around the gills when we stopped for a break to admire the richly reddening sunset landscape, and a quick stab at sandboarding.
The trucks then took us to a desert camp where we served a delicious meal, while treated to a belly dancing performance and what I can best decribe as a whirling dervish dispay which ended up in two of our number (Tracey and Sarah Lee of LiveShareTravel) being called up on the stage to take part. Both overcame their English reserve and performed creditably!
Then it was back to the Bonnington for a nightcap, and off to bed before an early start for the big day. We arrived at the Burj at 6am, while it was still dark, and the huge white bulk of the building's sail-like form loomed suddenly from the night as we drove along its causeway. Once up in the stunningly opulent 27th floor ballroom where the conference was taking place, the sun came up to reveal the surreal, slightly crazy, but undeniably impressive city of Dubai spread out below us. It's difficult to imagine that just 20 years ago there was barely anything there other than a small fishing port.
A stellar cast of more than 70 delegates from across the Gulf region and Europe arrived for what was a successful and invigorating day, with decidedly more "buzz" in the air than there had been in Abu Dhabi. Whether that was due to the location, or perhaps due to increased confidence in the market I don't know, but it was undeniably there. For a review of the conference click here. Special credit must go to Sarah Lee, who had her work cut out moderating the owners panel which was conducted using a translator - something which Sarah only found out shortly before the session, but coped with admirably.
After a post-event cocktail party, we held a dinner for our sponsors where the Burj lived up to its reputation for lavish hospitality. The ten-course extravaganza featured lobster, scallops, guinea fowl, langoustine, monkfish, sirloin and much more. With extremely full bellies and a sense of satisfaction at staging an event which our delegates found extremely useful it was back to the hotel, and then an early flight back to the UK to catch up on some much needed sleep. Thanks to all delegates and sponsors for making the event possible, and I look forward to my next trip to this fascinating part of the world.
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