The Happiness Quotient

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“If shopping makes you happy, Dubai is the happiest place in the world,” says Laila Suhail, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE). Yasmeen Maqbool discovers the dynamic leader who is resolved to up this happiness quotient further in the coming years and aiming to get to Dubai 20 million visitors by 2020!


Branding Dubai has never been a difficult proposition. The unique model of collaboration between the government and private sectors initiated by the country’s leadership has led to the development of the right infrastructure, ambience and a package of incomparable experiences. This has made Dubai an outstanding international city. From being just a city of dreams, we have gone through a remarkable transformation in all fields to offer multiple memorable experiences to residents, families and tourists, making it a must-visit year round destination.


My day consists of meetings with senior management at Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing [DTCM], of which DFRE is an agency. Besides promoting Dubai as a family destination through our festivals, we are now responsible for the launch of the official calendar of events for Dubai to bring all the events under one platform and develop an aggressive marketing campaign to promote that calendar in coordination with various government and private agencies.

We are at the helm of highly successful retail activities as Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) and Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) and theirextensions, Eid in Dubai and Ramadan in Dubai and extremely excited about the 20th anniversary edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival in January 2015.


Shopping makes you happy, and by saying that, Dubai must be the happiest place in the world because the city was recently named the world’s top destination for shopping by TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site!

We at DFRE are actively engaged in multiplying this happiness. By running festivals that provide a solid platform for retailers, we encourage consumers to enjoy, not only shopping, but family entertainment, great deals and chances to win super prizes. Dubai has always been a magnet for visitors from across the world. They are drawn to the city by its energy and also the can-do spirit of the Dubai Government. A fact reflected in the infrastructure and amenities that make this city such a great place to visit.

We are engaged in developing a strategy for the Dubai Tourism Vision, which is aimed at welcoming 20 million visitors by 2020 and DFRE is very much part of this drive.


From a sponsorship coordinator to my role today I am trying to pass on pass on all the experience of 20 years to a younger generation of Emiratis in the DFRE team. In the early part of my career, I was fortunate to work with and learn from many leaders who have been responsible in making Dubai a truly global city and economic powerhouse. These include HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makhtoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, HH Mohammad Alabbar and HE Mohammad Al Gergawi, among others.


Be prepared for an innovative motoring experience this November at the Dubai Motor Festival.

Earlier this year, we launched Dubai Food Festival, with pop-up restaurants on the beach and special festival promotions throughout the city’s hotels and restaurants. The 8th to 28th of February 2015 is going to capitalize on the inaugural event to be an even better culinary feast. In between, of course, is the 20th anniversary of Dubai Shopping Festival, running throughout January 2015, and we are going to celebrate this milestone with
something special – but you’ll just have to wait and see!

Keeping in mind that the family is at the very heart of everything Dubai has to offer, we have designed the 17th edition of DSS in a way that it embraces and showcases the core values of joy, family bonding and endless surprises– indeed everything that can help the family to enjoy an unforgettable experience in Dubai during the summer.