Our client asked us to create a memorable climax for their annual three-day managers’ getaway. One of our tasks was to create a memorable gala dinner on the final night and we quickly got to work finding the right venue to capture the romance of the region. Luckily, Abu Dhabi is a part of the world that JBE is very familiar with and we knew just where to find that something special.
This event presented a number of unique challenges, the most obvious being the remote location. Naturally, this meant that nothing could get lost or left behind or we’d be facing a four-hour round trip when we had little time to spare. We were also conscious of the budget and the limitations of the chosen venue – we only had a portion of the property rented for the evening. This meant we had to be discreet and not get in the way of the other guests. Finally, this brief came with the possibility of a nightmare scenario: In the desert, sand storms can appear out of nowhere and without warning, potentially transforming our fantasy paradise into a dense fog of hot sand in as little as twenty minutes. It wasn’t likely to happen, but it was always in the back of our minds.
We quickly fell in love with the Qasr al Sarab desert resort. A picturesque oasis in the middle of the desert, the luxurious getaway came with the added romance of being located quite literally in the middle of nowhere – the nearest town was a two-hour drive away. In Abu Dhabi, the sun sets in about twenty minutes and is a spectacular sight when seen over the dunes of the Liwa desert. We decided to make this spectacle a feature of our evening, with a cocktail reception starting off 30 minutes before sunset.
We took over a terraced area of the resort overlooking the sand dunes and transformed it into a candlelit retreat in which guests could relax and enjoy the environment. We made extra room by partially submerging the canÃ¡pe tables in the reflecting pool at the centre of the space. After the sun disappeared below the horizon, the space was illuminated by meticulously arranged displays of candles. Later, we released a helium balloon carrying a stage lamp, elevating it to over 25 metres in height so that it covered the whole terrace in a warm amber glow (reminiscent of Arabian moonlight).
For the dinner itself, we led the guests to a cosy courtyard that contained its own reflecting pool. Here, we covered the entire area including the pool, with an internally lit Perspex floor. We also lit the arches overlooking the courtyard and pin-spotted each table to give the impression of lilies floating in serene aquamarine water.
Following an outstanding dinner, the guests returned to the terrace area where they were entertained by a seven-piece classical rock band, David Garrett Rock Symphonies. We built our own stage and dance floor as the venue’s own setup wasn’t appropriate for a night-time concert. While the guests were rocking out, we then transformed the courtyard area into a club setting, changing the under-floor lighting to a warmer colour and replacing the dining tables with lounge seating to allow the guests to keep the party going once the musical performance had wrapped up.
We made sure to plan meticulously, execute deliberately and prepare a similarly chic backup in should our worst case scenario happen. Thanks to our brilliant, detail-focused team and a lot of crossed-fingers, the event went off without a hitch. The Mewa staff were wowed by the truly magical atmosphere, we came in under budget and the desert was kind enough not blow away all our hard work.