Tourism Developments in the Middle East Region

Over the years, the UAE is one of the great success stories of global travel and tourism with Emirates and Etihad changing the face of global aviation, Dubai International Airport recognised as one of the world’s best hubs and Dubai, the fourth most visited city in the world.

And the UK plays its part being in the top three markets travelling to the region – and growing. So what is that that attracts us?  The answers were on display in full glory at the annual Arabian Travel Market which takes place, yes, you guessed correctly, in Dubai, the so called “engine room” of the UAE.

Architecture splendour in the form of hotels, laced with chandeliers and gold trimmings remind us in which part of the world we are. Hotels in this region continue to grow as brands compete for individuality and to attract new markets such as the hotel brand Voco which has made its debut in Dubai. Part of the InterContinental Hotels Group it aims to attract leisure and business guests.

Home-grown hospitality provider, Emaar Hospitality Group is set to open five new hotels in Dubai this year including four under its premium brand and upscale lifestyle brands. Two hotels will be under its Address Hotels & Resorts in Downtown Dubai, the Address Fountain Views and Address Sky View and two under Vida Hotels & Resorts. The company will also add to its midscale hotels, Rove, The Park which is ideal for families.

Opening 14 new hotels is Millennium Hotels & Resorts adding to its existing portfolio of 40 hotels in the Middle East & Africa. On a bright note, Millennium Place, the happier hotel brand has been introduced which strives to deliver a smile to its guests through different touch points in the guest’s journey. Millennium Place Marina and Millennium Place Barsha Heights are due to open in 2019 with eight more to open over the next two years in the region.

Jumeirah Group is expanding in Asia and Europe. This Dubai-based luxury hotel company is opening in China and Indonesia while the Jumeirah Carlton Tower in London is undergoing renovation this year. Work is also progressing on a new hotel near Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. This will be a 400-room property on the beachfront.

Yas Island last year opened Warner Bros World. Its upcoming developments includes a new sports facility to feature the world’s widest indoor skydiving flight chamber and the highest indoor climbing wall.

A luxury Camp is currently under construction in Ras Al Khaimah and will house 47 luxury tented units, a health club, heated pool, spa and wellness centre, kids area, fire pit and restaurant. This glamping site will be located atop Jebel Jais, the highest mountain in the UAE.

The Museum of the future, scheduled to open next year, will showcase cutting-edge technology and innovations that are designed to change the way we live and solutions to climate change, energy production, healthcare, transport, education, housing and security. Also in Dubai the Dubai Creek Harbour will become the location for the city’s tallest building , the $1 billion Dubai Tower when it is completed next year.

In Abu Dhabi the world’s first commercial hyperloop service is currently under construction and will start operations in 2020. The first phase will employ a network of hyperloop tubes covering a distance of up to 150km. It is later scheduled to expand services to Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

In Oman, the high-speed passenger and freight rail line will span 2,135km of the sultanate from Salalah in the south to Al Buraimi and Sohar in the north in 2020.

However, Saudi Arabia caught the limelight this year at the Arabian Travel Market with its eye-watering ambitious plans to become a tourism destination of the future. E-visa rules for international travellers will be the game-changer. The Kingdom will be open to all.

Tourism is Saudi’s new “white oil” spanning a destination offering culture and history, coastlines and desert. Rumoured to be funded with half a trillion US dollar investment, tourism is the ingredient of the government’s Vision 2030 economic diversification strategy. This in turn will attract new hotels and innovative hospitality concepts, operated to international standards, particularly high-quality budget hotels. New mega  projects include Neom City, Amaala, an uber-luxury wellness tourism destination, the Red Sea Development reshaping the coastline and Qiddiya offering leisure, entertainment, sports, wellness, adventure and cultural destinations.

Winter sunshine, family leisure and adventure maybe the core attractions for travel to the region as well as convenient regional flights but in the heart of the exhibition, the Expo 2020 stand stood proudly as a beacon for visitors next year. This mega project aims to deliver one of the most sustainable World Expos. The UAE Pavilion has been designed to resemble a falcon in flight to harvest clean energy as its hydraulic “wings” open and close. Ultimately, Expo 2020 in Dubai seeks to inspire us all to live in better balance with the world and build a brighter and more sustainable future together – a unique opportunity to see tomorrow today!

Read more about the Arabian Travel Market here