You may have seen on social media recently, and in the media, that Dubai Tourism is booming in the face of the ongoing pandemic while other countries look on in disbelief, asking themselves how it is possible – so Click&Boat decided to break it down for you! Whilst other countries are still in lockdown, in Dubai, restaurants, bars and even nightclubs are all open. The comeback of tousim in the United Arab Emirates and in Dubai in particular is multi-faceted and not as simple as opening borders, bars and restaurants. Travel Insights with GoogleTravel is an amazing tool that helps us follow travel demands and compare them to the previous years. It gives you a chart showing travel demand in a specific region based on search volume from 0 to 100 with 100 being the maximum search volume that destination had within the last 2 years. The chart below shows travel demand for the United Arab Emirates over 2020 compared to 2019. After the initial covid hit in March which led to a drop in travel demand, demand has slowly risen ever since with demand at the end of December actually reaching over 60% of the maximum demand this year. Not only that, compared to last year, it has almost caught up to demand for the same period.
But why? Why has this been the case with Dubai tourism and not elsewhere? Spain for example dropped to around 10% in April and in December of 2020 was still hovering between 10 and 20%. In fact its highest travel demand since April was only around 37%. In a joint statement in August of 2020, the UAE announced the normalisation of relations with Israel. The Times of Israel recently reported that more than 50,000 Israelis have already visited the UAE since the Abraham Accords peace agreement was signed on Sept. 15. Daily flights now travel between Tel Aviv and Dubai with both countries declaring that arrivals from each other do not require any form of quarantine. Israeli Jews flying to muslim Dubai now have over 200 hotels that are serving kosher food to choose from.
The law has changed a lot in Dubai this year too. Islam is the official religion of the United Arab Emirates and the law has often been intertwined with religion here. But this year the UAE government lifted some of the restrictions on alcohol consumption and even legalised the cohabitation of unmarried couples. Business laws have also been overhauled in the UAE this year with the groundbreaking amendment to the UAE Companies Law that now permits 100% foreign ownership within the onshore jurisdiction of the UAE. Previously, the law required 51% Emirati ownership. This is huge for Dubai, the city known for its entrepreneurial spirit. At the end of 2020, the Dubai Land Department reported that demand for villas and town houses had increased by 500% in the last 6 months. Last week the UAE became the second Arab country to begin offering the Pfize-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine after rolling out the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) vaccine earlier in the month. The UAE was the first country outside of China to roll out that vaccine.
An effective response to the global pandemic, legal reform and peace agreements have all played their part in ensuring that Dubai tourism can somewhat return to normality. Don’t be fooled – face masks are still mandatory and social distancing rules are still in place. However, if trends continue the way they did in 2020, many more people may be choosing to visit Dubai in 2021.