Dubai: Monaco of the region with a difference

5 min read
Burj Al Arab is the most Instagrammable hotel with more than 2.55 million posts so far this year. (AFP)
  • Overall, UAE hotels raised $408 million in revenue between December 15 and the end of January 2022, with Expo and the second World's Coolest Winter campaign as key catalysts.
  • Dubai has beaten popular holiday destinations such as London, Bali, and Rome to become the most popular destination for 2022.

Dubai witnessed a 100 percent increase in tourist arrivals in January 2022 and hotel occupancy also climbed by nearly 15 percent, reinforcing the emirate’s image as the tourism hub of the Middle East.

The latest Dubai Tourism Report showed international guest arrivals in January 2022 hit 979,700 compared to 452,100 in January 2021. 

Overall, UAE hotels raised $408 million in revenue between December 15 and the end of January 2022, with Expo 2020 Dubai and the second World’s Coolest Winter campaign serving as important catalysts.

Dubai hotel performance

Dubai’s hospitality successes last year were seen mostly in the final quarter of the year.

The final quarter of 2021 provided a major boost to Dubai hotel results, with properties surpassing even 2019 figures across all major KPIs. 

Occupied room nights in the quarter hit 10.1 million, up 12 percent from 9 million in 2019. Length of stay increased from 3.5 nights to 4.5, a 20 percent increase and ADR increased from $128 to $179, an increase of 40 percent.

The greatest increase between Q4 2019 and Q4 2021 was in RevPAR, which increased from $103 to $146, a 42 percent jump.

A full-year look at Dubai hotel results showed that over 30 million room nights were booked in 2021, surpassing the 2019 results by over 10 million

Full recovery in 2022

Even though international tourism has yet to recover, huge events such as Expo 2020 Dubai and the World’s Coolest Winter campaign have boosted demand for trips to the UAE.

According to Raheesh Babu, General Manager at, the Expo 2020 has been great for business. “We’ve seen a good influx of travelers from all parts of the world, which resulted in a sizable bump in hotel reservations. Hotel reservations have seen an 80-90 percent rise since the Expo began,” he said.

During the World’s Coolest Winter campaign, the various activities showcased the UAE’s landmarks and destinations in a new light. It introduced visitors to the UAE’s unique tourism potential and allowed them to enjoy tourism services, rich cultural-historical heritage, and exceptional experiences.

“Once the country has opened its doors, the tourism business and the subsequent hotel industry have started to flourish,” Babu added. 

“We are confident that hotel reservations will continue to rise as Dubai is hosting multiple events at the same time. So, if it is not the Expo, it is Global Village, cricket competitions, concerts, etc. Therefore, we are optimistic that hotels will reach maximum capacity and remain so until March 2022, at which point we will need to analyze and identify the next set of trends.”

According to the latest industry forecast from Colliers International, commissioned by RX, the UAE’s hotel sector is expected to grow by 12 percent year on year in 2022, with several hotels expected to achieve hotel occupancy rates of 70 percent or higher.

Tourist and family destination

Dubai has beaten popular holiday destinations such as London, Bali, and Rome to become the most popular destination for 2022. In a list released by TripAdvisor, Dubai has taken the top spot and is followed by London (UK), Cancun (Mexico), Bali (Indonesia) and Crete (Greece).

Through its tourist, heritage and urban attractions, the city has become one of the most preferred destinations for tourists and families from all over the world.

Dubai is also extremely child-friendly. They find a lot to do in the city and are welcomed at almost every place.

As a rule, most of beach hotels and resorts are perfect for families, with many offerings dedicated activity programs. For example, Atlantis the Palm is a long-standing family favorite, with a huge kids’ club, playgrounds and a waterpark and aquarium on its doorstep.

Furthermore, the city offers a variety of family-friendly activities. Of course, there are world-famous theme parks, but some of the best family-friendly activities in the city don’t require tickets or lines.

Upcoming Resorts

There’s an exciting line-up of new properties set to open in the UAE this year and in the next few years. Among them are a seriously wow-worthy array of luxury hotels, complete with a range of exciting dining concepts, lavish pool facilities and incredible citywide views.

Wynn Resorts, the well-known Las Vegas high-end hotels and casinos chain, is one of them, with plans to establish a multibillion-dollar project on Ras al-Khaimah’s artificial Al-Marjan Island. The resort, set to open in 2026, will include a ‘luxury’ 1,000-room hotel, a mall, a convention center and a ‘gaming area’. 

The announcement comes months after rumors about legalizing gambling clubs and permitting casinos in the UAE, where current regulations prohibit the activity.

Jimmy Haoula, the managing partner at BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP, told TRENDS said that the development of this world-class facility would enhance the country’s strategies of attracting an influx of tourists from around the world and contribute to its economic growth.

“The UAE has long been a worldwide innovation pioneer, as evidenced by the implementation of forward-thinking and well-defined plans that have regularly resulted in the achievement of ambitious goals,” he said.

“The market’s nature and the country’s well-developed infrastructure will surely help it become a global leader in the gaming sector.”

Other landmark technological innovations promoted by the UAE such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence and blockchain present opportunities for the further enhancement of tourism and investment in a way that will continue to be unique from other destinations, Haoula said.

Monaco of the region

Because of the UAE’s open and free economic and life structure and well-established commercial relations with the rest of the globe, many high-net-worth individuals (HNW) like to visit the country, either to invest, live, or enjoy luxury tourism.

“The UAE can offer a unique integrated resorts experience that is distinct from Monaco’s casinos or Las Vegas and Macao’s gaming strips,” says Simon Oaten, Leisure and Gaming Lead, Deloitte UK to TRENDS

“If done correctly, the development of a luxury integrated resort segment in the UAE has the potential to compete with existing best-in-class sites. Its long-term success will be dependent on ensuring that it is supported by world-class regulation,” he said.