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Tue 17 May 2011 08:59 PM

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Dubai tourism 'benefits drastically' from regional unrest

CAPM Investment says emirate sees uplift in tourists, revenues as Egypt, Syria remain off limits

Dubai tourism 'benefits drastically' from regional unrest
Dubais tourism sector has benefited drastically from the unrest elsewhere in the Middle East, CAPM Investment said. (Getty Images)

Gulf states least affected by regional turmoil are likely to see a boost in tourism, analysts said on Tuesday, with the United Arab Emirates outperforming other destinations.

"Dubai has benefitted drastically, with high occupancy rates, more tourists, and high retail numbers, because your average Arab who used to go to ... Jordan, Syria or Lebanon, or to Egypt find these countries suffering from unrest," said Mahdi Mattar, chief economist at Abu Dhabi-based CAPM Investment.

"They have adjusted to the next best thing which is Dubai. Also international tourists who used to go to Egypt and wanted to see a better weather are coming to Dubai right now," he said.

UAE Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri said earlier this month that he had already seen an uptick in tourism in the first four months of 2011.

Tourism contributes about 25 percent to Dubai's economy.

"It's a very broad mix of tourists. If we look at the Dubai market for tourism, the number one nationality providing tourists to Dubai is traditionally the United Kingdom, closely followed by Asian, Russian and (Gulf) tourists," said Farouk Soussa, Citi's Middle East chief economist in Dubai.

"If you look at the number of tourist arrivals, the number of people going through Dubai airport, all these indicators are growing at a rate of between 10 to 15 percent," he added.

The UAE, along with Qatar, has avoided the public protests that have swept through the Arab world, and Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in the Gulf. Occupancy rates in Bahrain hotels dropped to 10 percent in March, compared with 60 percent a year earlier, according to a Ernst & Young Middle East survey.

In Oman, a small sultanate hit by street protests since February, hotel occupancy rates stood at 68 percent in March this year, down from 83 percent in March 2010, the data showed.

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Jim Thompson 8 years ago

Dubai continues to be a safehaven for so many people in the region. I term this as oppressive tourism. These are massive amounts of people who flee their nations to bask in the good government of Dubai who want to be free from religious oppression, who want to just drive down the beautifully landscaped boulevards and to drive over the incredible Al-Maktoum Bridge, in addition, these people want the right to drink alcohol, dance in clubs and the women want no more than to drive a car or to wear what they want in public without persecution. Even during the global economic downturn, this saved Dubai tourism. Oppressive people who live under repressive governments, with lack of development in their infrastructure, that deny their citizens basic human rights abound in the region and Dubai shines like a beacon of hope for them. Many long for their 'freedom flights' to Dubai - it is the promise land for many and this affects Dubai's tourism numbers.

Jon 8 years ago

"They have adjusted to the next best thing which is Dubai."

...is this an admission that Dubai is a second rate tourist destination and people would rather go elsewhere given a choice?

Mary Morgan 8 years ago

Oh ye, my beautiful Dubai, fore you must be cautious on who you allow the privledge to walk down your shores. Sure your tourism numbers swell as the war drums pound throughout the region, but you don't want to become a refugee camp, you want to encourage formative tourism. The flood gates have been open too long to the subcontinent countries and this is not to your advantage. You are now the template for the middle-east as you sparkle as an example for the region in your modern splendor which is a credit to your fine leadership. Implement population quotas and guard your shores, you are a modern Arab success story for the middle-east and this is what mesmerizes the tourist. You are the middle-east at it's finest, God Bless the U.A.E.!

nancy 8 years ago

SECOND TO WHO??? Jordan? Lebanon? Syria? Dude, where do you get your information from? 10 summer beauty tips magazine?

Ahmed 8 years ago

Next best thing????? Dubai is the next best thing? dear Mr Mattar, when has Dubai become the next best thing? everyone is trying to emulate and fail, there are 68 five star hotels in Dubai, 64 four star, 34 three star......how many in Lebanon again? how many in Syria? and Jordan?

Telcoguy 8 years ago

You are so right. What can Egypt claim? The pyramids? Just a bunch of old stones.
Jordan? Nah, more old stones in Petra and a few other places.

Just for your info, Tunisia has roughly the same number of tourists as UAE (7M), Morocco has almost 9, Egypt almost 12M

And while we are at it Canada can boast double number of tourists than UAE (over 15M)

My country (Spain) over 50 M tourists, the US (top of the list) 55M

All figures are 2009.

Jake 8 years ago

And you know what any of those destination, that you mentioned, has? History and a distinct culture! Tourists revisit countries for that. But I guess that might be a whole different kind of tourist, compared to the kind that is coming to us here in the UAE.

Jon 8 years ago

An interesting perception of what it is tourists want. The country and what it has to offer is the destination - not the hotel. The hotel is merely where you sleep. Which is why countries like Egypt, Syria, Lebanon will always fare better.

The Wanderer 8 years ago

1. The history in Egypt is astounding whether it be Abu Simbel, Luxor, Valley of the Kings or the Pyramids around Cairo. Go - please go. Once. The overall experience of visiting the country is wholly unpleasant and therefore we would never go again. The UAE's charm is the warmth of the people as well as its climate.
2. Why does every holiday have to involve visiting ancient monuments - our last few holidays have mixed culture and history with pure escapism - sometimes I want to wander around the Prado or Reina Sofia, sometimes I want to relax on the beach.
3. It's a total insult to say this country has no history or culture - it has an incredibly rich history - perhaps you just aren't looking carefully enough for it; it's easy to appreciate history in London or Paris - it's there on a plate, it takes a little more to reveal the richness of the UAE.

lionheart 8 years ago

"The flood gates have been open for far too long to the subcontinental countries"... That is an uncouth,misinformed comment . The floodgates have been open to allow people to come and build and work and sometimes give their lives to certain Gulf cities