02 Jul 2019
Dubai is at the centre of the world, a global hub that serves Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa and is within easy reach of 85% of the globe’s population. It is therefore the perfect place to organise an event. From soaring skyscrapers to intimate retreats there is a space for every scale and every budget. Here we talk to Danielle Nay, an international planner of highly original luxury events with soul, scale and impact, about why and how Dubai is the perfect event destination. She has produced spectacular happenings in the US, UK and Europe, as well as the Middle East and numbers many celebrities among her clients.
How did you end up organising events in Dubai?
Well, the short answer is I moved for love. That’s what brought me here permanently in 2009. The long answer: Destiny! I “manifested” my new Dubai life in a poem I wrote aged 7. The closing lines were: “If I were to choose from the thousands of homes that are scattered all over the land, I would live by the sea, in a house just for me, completely surrounded by sand.” I drew palm trees and a little dog! The only thing missing from my 7-year-old vision was a husband. (And yes, we have a dog.)
What makes Dubai ideal for hosting large events? How does it differ from other destinations?
I love working internationally, but my adopted home remains the most exciting place to deliver a world-class, luxury event. As the planet’s most futuristic metropolis-by-the-sea, it’s accessible by guests from over 80 countries without changing planes. Dubai is underpinned by well-planned infrastructure, stellar service and a refreshing “consider it done” attitude. There’s a breath-taking new venue every week, the local vendor landscape is world class – with excellent florists, designers and furniture rentals - and English is the common language. What’s not to like?
Where are your favourite places and spaces to create an event in Dubai? What makes them so special?
The new Burj al Arab Terrace is, in itself, an architectural wonder. Appearing to float in the sea in the shape of a fan wafer, it’s orientated westwards, to maximise the sunset. With wraparound infinity pools, a white sand beach, private cabanas and a contemporary brasserie, it’s a peerless setting for a chic party or wedding.
Facing the Burj Al Arab, the Madinat Jumeirah is unbeatable for its sheer number and variety of exquisite event spaces and guest accommodation (my favourite being the riad-style private mansions of Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf). I adore Magnolia, a dedicated canal-facing venue with a pretty garden for weddings and parties.
Jumeirah Al Naseem, the newest hotel property at the Madinat Jumeirah, is a paradigm of contemporary luxury. Most of its restaurants – including the unmissable Flamingo Room and Il Borro – are clustered piazza-style, around a small turtle sanctuary, conjuring a fabulous vibe not seen elsewhere in the UAE.
Which is the favourite event you’ve planned? What made it so memorable?
My guiding principles of “scale and impact” apply even to intimate events. An exclusive buyout of Pierchic – often dubbed “the most romantic restaurant in Dubai” - was at the heart of a destination wedding I produced for a Quintessentially client. We dressed the space with custom-built pearlescent mashrabiyah and extravagantly-draped faux wisteria for an elegant ceremony, feast and late-night party. Next day, guests danced through the afternoon and evening on a beautiful superyacht cruise. As always, the one thing that made this event truly special was the people. The clients and their guests were already super-fun - but the Pierchic staff breaking into a joyous, spontaneous dance-off and conga around 1am was the cherry on top.
What is the most unusual event you have ever put together in Dubai?
I was honoured to produce an immersive art exhibition entitled Scent of a Rose for Emirati artist, H.H. Sheikha Maytha Bint Obaid Al Maktoum. We worked closely together over many months to realise her vision. The emotionally-charged, multi-media, “sensurround” installation we crafted defied all expectations, all the more so for being staged within a traditional ballroom, with many guests moved to tears.
What are your tips for throwing a truly memorable party?
Invest in the experience, not just how the design will play on Instagram. Create distinct zones and build stories with a life beyond the event: mixed reality, live art, original music, magical playrooms, unicorn dancers – they all have their place but they must always feel relevant.
What is the most important part of any event?
Authenticity. Start the ideation process with the person, couple, or brand, rather than with an irrelevant, money-on-toast concept or theme as your jumping-off point. I recently produced a 5-day private boutique festival in Big Sur for a client who avoids social media. The fact that she didn’t care about Instagram was a breath of fresh air: it meant that the entire event – while intensely beautiful - came truly from the heart.
What three words describe a successful event planner?
Resourceful. Relentless. Visionary.
Contact our Jumeirah Events team to chat about the amazing spaces we have at our Dubai properties, or contact Danielle Nay at www.daniellenay.com to put on a mind-blowing, once-in-a-lifetime event.