It took five years and more than $1.5 billion to build the Burj Dubai which, at 2,717 feet, becomes the world’s tallest tower. And its long-awaited opening earlier this month came with a surprise—the renaming of the tower as the Burj Khalifa, in honor of Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi leader who gave Dubai billions of dollars to help its neighboring emirate out of a crushing debt crisis late last year. The sheik also is president of the United Arab Emirates.

In addition to 37 office floors and more than 1,000 apartments, the Burj Khalifa is home to the 160-room Hotel Armani, designed by Giorgio Armani. The hotel’s 30,000 square feet of meeting space includes the Armani Ballroom, accommodating 350 guests, and the outdoor Armani Pavilion, with views of the Dubai Fountain, the world’s largest “performing” fountain. Also available are restaurants, a night club, and the 12,000-square-foot Armani Spa. The Burj Khalifa is the centerpiece of a $20 billion Downtown Dubai project, halfway between the city’s older districts of Deira and Bur Dubai and the more newly developed communities in the Marina and Emirates Hills areas.

Recovering from its financial disaster, Dubai could be a good choice for meeting planners now. Earlier this year, the Dubai Convention Bureau announced the Dubai Bid Alliance, a collaboration of Dubai stakeholders to create a community approach to meeting bids. The alliance committee includes 10 members: the Dubai Convention Bureau, the Dubai Convention & Exhibition Centre, Emirates Airline, a group of two five-star hotels, two four-star hotels, and one three-star hotel, along with a Dubai-based destination management company and a Dubai-based professional congress organizer. The group works together to build conference bids with flexible contracts, discounts, and citywide incentives. More information is available at the Dubai Convention Bureau Web site.