Cairo, the capital of Egypt, has been named the most popular outbound destination for tourists travelling from the UAE.
Expedia.com said Cairo came out on top of the list which has been based on bookings performed on Expedia sites such as hotwire.com, trivago and Expedia itself, beating Amman in Jordan and Beirut in Lebanon into second and third place.
Cairo also saw the biggest increase in bookings in 2014 compared to the previous year, ahead of Saudi capital Riyadh, Expedia said in a statement.
Based on bookings and year-on-year comparisons, Expedia predicts that Cairo, Beirut and Amman will also be the top outbound travel destinations for 2015.
New York and London are expected to each move up in the ranking to fourth and fifth places, respectively. Other popular destinations will include Toronto, Washington DC, Atlanta, Paris and Bangkok.
The top 10 outbound travel destinations for UAE residents in 2014 based on yearly flight bookings include:
1. Cairo – Despite the political turmoil faced by Egypt’s capital in recent years, at only 3.5 hours flight time, it’s an ideal destination for a weekend break. Cairo is so rich in history, they almost don't know what to do with all their historical artefactss. The museums are excellent and numerous. The beautiful coastal locations Sharm el Sheikh and Hurgada are also popular resort destinations for travelers heading for Egypt and are popular with millennials traveling with friends.
Flight time: 3.5 hours
2. Amman – One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Amman offers tourists plenty to do, from a thriving nightlife to historical Roman sites such as the Temple of Hercules (thought to have been built under Marcus Aurelius) to the beautiful King Hussein mosque. And of course, the famous site of Petra is a three hour drive south. Charmingly, when you Google Petra, the Google dropped pin says “Building carved in red mountain rock”.
Flight time: 3 hours
3. Beirut – Known as the party capital of the Arab world, Beirut is home to some of the most fashionable partygoers. But it’s also rich in history, from Phoenician ruins just 25 miles north to Jeita Grotto, a series of interconnecting caves and some of the region’s most interesting nightlife. Dining in the Lebanese capital, with its French influence, is not to be missed. (Photo: Jeita Grotto)
Flight time: 3.5 hours
4. London – Once a Roman outpost known as Londinium, England’s capital city is home to masses of historical monuments as well as the diverse F&B offerings you’d expect from a major European city. Most popular with residents of the Gulf are shopping at Harrod’s and Selfridge’s, tea at Claridge’s hotel and suit shopping on Savile Row. The East End, particularly Hoxton and Shoreditch, are where the Millennials go for good nightlife. And though all the free museums in London are truly world-class, the Tate Modern is always interesting and exhibiting the latest in European art trends.
Flight time: 7.5 hours
5. Istanbul – Turkey’s capital city has long been a tourist’s dream with its mix of old and new cities, eastern and western influences. While seeing the basics such as the spice market, Sultan Ahmed Mosque and the Hagia Sofia, make sure you know the taxi fares before you go, as Turkish taxi drivers are infamous for over-charging. Shopping in this edgy, artistic city is great, but make sure to go slightly off the beaten path for more interesting fare. The nightlife, long a favourite with American and European students, is tremendous, with a big emphasis on independent and alternative venues. (Photo: Sultan Ahmed mosque)
Flight time: 5 hours
6. Bangkok – An old trading city, the Siamese capital is known for its strange diversity of entertainment and nightlife. With French colonial influences and plenty of British and American trading history, the busy, smoggy city offers historical sites such as the Grand Palace, beautiful Buddhist temples (Wat Phra Kaew is a must-see) and ancient Hindu structures such as the Giant Swing. River tours and shopping are top of the to-do list, but be careful: most tourists to Thailand encounter scams, overcharging and dual pricing, so make sure you don’t switch your brain into holiday mode. (Photo: Wat Arun temple)
Flight time: 6 hours
7. Doha – The tiny desert city in the Gulf’s peninsular country of Qatar may seem like a strange place for Emirati residents to visit, but its bustling nightlife improves every year, with new F&B options springing up every six months. With the famous Museum of Islamic Art on the Corniche as well as Souq Waqif offering a taste of old Bedouin market experiences, Doha is a relaxed, if not cheap, place to visit and is a hop away from the Emirates. (Photo: Museum of Isamic Art)
Flight time: 1 hour
8. Manila – Sitting between two bodies of water, Manila is one of 16 cities that make up Metro Manila. With lots of Spanish and American influence, Manila is a multi-lingual city that feels distinctly Filipino, with its token mix of North American and Pacific culture. Must-sees include historic walled city Intramuros; Bindondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown; the Night Market at Tutuban Centermall, open from 7pm-midnight every night; and San Sebastian Basilica, Asia’s only all-steel curch. With some great nightlife and the friendliness which Filipinos are famed for, it’s easy to see why Manila made the top 10.
Flight time: 8 hours
9. New York – The Big Apple, The Melting Pot, the City Formerly Known as New Amsterdam – whatever you call it, New York, New York has had more songs written about it than nearly any other city. The F&B in NY is GREAT – from meltingly good pizza in Little Italy to tiny bars at the dodgy end of Brooklyn: the choices are mind-boggling. On the tourism side, it's hard to decide what to visit first: Times Square, Rockefeller Centre, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Tiffany’s, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. Whatever you decide, the city that never sleeps is bound to keep you awake all night. (Photo: Radio City Music Hall)
Flight time: 13.5 hours
10. Toronto – North America’s fourth most populous city, Toronto (pronounced ‘Turahno’ by the locals) offers a charming mix of English, American and French culture with a big Chinese immigrant influence. Known colloquially as a cleaner, newer NYC, the city offers the nightlife, arts and culture activities and F&B options tourists would expect. Highlights are the eye-wateringly tall CN Tower and its glass floor, Gothic-creepy mansion Casa Loma and the Royal Ontario Museum. Make sure you get your picture taken with a ‘Mountie’ (a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and eat some delicious dim sum in Chinatown. (Photo: Royal Ontario Museum)
"Expedia outbound passenger data examining the most popular destinations for UAE residents found that three MENA cities topped the poll. In terms of international destinations, London is ranked in fourth place, illustrating its enduring popularity within the Middle East, ahead of New York in ninth place and Paris ranked at 15," said Eman Barhoumeh, Expedia director of e-commerce.
"Furthermore, Cairo experienced the most substantial growth with over a 70 percent increase in bookings in 2014 in comparison to 2013, closely followed by Riyadh.
"We also witnessed a sizable increase in flights to Colombo with over 55 percent, followed by Beirut and Kuwait City at 45 percent and 40 percent respectively," Barhoumeh explained.
The rest of the top 20 cities are listed below in order of most-visited:
19. Kuwait City
20. Washington, DCFor all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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