In what seemed like a small corner of Argentina, tango dancers took to the floor on Monday night for a special performance far from home.
Donned in sequinned dresses and tuxedos, the troupe from Buenos Aires performed complex footwork, lifts and kicks in front of a select audience, who dined on Argentinian food and drank beverages imported from the South American country at Gaucho in the Dubai International Financial Centre.
Unlike the carefully choreographed dance moves, the aim of the evening was much more simple: to promote trade and tourism between Argentina and the UAE.
The spectacle was organised by the Embassy of Argentina in the UAE to celebrate existing ties and enhance them.
Guests included Camilo Makon, an Argentinian entrepreneur who runs Studio Singerman Makon and is seeking partners for two tourism-related projects he is planning back home. One of these includes a US$400 million (Dh1.46 billion) venture to build a chain of motorway hotels, while the other is a $20m plan for boutique hotels in a mountainous area of Argentina.
"This event is very important for us because [it offers] the possibility to open markets in countries [where] we don't have a historical presence," says Mr Makon.
Europe and the US used to be Studio Singerman Makon's traditional investor hunting grounds. "They are passing through a difficult [phase] and we recognise that there are many other markets with capacity for growth and [the ability to] spend money," says Mr Makon.
"[The UAE] is one of the strategic markets to promote tourism in Argentina," he adds.
Tourism links received a significant boost late last year with the launch of a direct flight to Buenos Aires from Dubai by Emirates Airline.
One UAE resident who welcomed the new route was Gioqui Capria, who has lived here with her husband and three children for the past seven years.
She used to fly via Paris but took the direct flight for the first time in February for a trip home. "You leave here at 7am and you are in Buenos Aires at 7.30pm," she says.
"That is going to help a lot for people from here to go there and people from Argentina to come and visit Dubai," she adds.
But for Argentina's business community, the route opens up even more avenues.
"For us, it is a very important link to Asia," says Carlos Enrique Meyer, the minister of tourism for Argentina.
Juan Pedriel, the director of a group called Best of South America (Bop), which represents luxury hotels in Argentina, also hopes to make the most of the new opportunities. "We have [a] very recognised airline company which is flying to Buenos Aires, so that really opens a market - not only for the Emirates and [other] Arabian countries but also for India and different countries that connect through Dubai," he says.
Flights to Buenos Aires are starting to pick up and many in the industry at Monday night's event expect them to be well used. "We saw the same things when Emirates launched flights to Brazil," says Percy Lobo, the senior manager of corporate sales at Sharjah National Travel and Tourist Agency.
"They launched a few years back and they have become very popular," he adds.
And there are plenty of people who are seeking different holiday destinations, notes William Horsley, the general manager of Al Futtaim Travel Company.
Mrs Capria acknowledges that to residents of the Emirates and the wider region, Argentina is "not very known".
"Argentina is an amazing country which has everything," she says.
"I think it is important for people here, not only in Dubai or the UAE but in the region, to know a little more about our country."
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