Middle East Ceremony 2008

28 October 2008 – Dubai

Middle East


Dubai – tourism for tomorrow, today

Dubai epitomises the great Arabian tourist dream. Just twenty years ago it was a sleepy fishing community but under the direction of the ruling Maktoum family it has been transformed into the playground of the Middle East. The scale and ambition of landmark projects currently underway is so breathtaking that you wouldn’t bet against this booming emirate becoming one of the most important places on earth.

HH Sheikh Rashid’s work has continued by the present Ruler, HH Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The result is that Dubai is constantly building its infrastructure of transport facilities, schools, hospitals, tourism developments and other amenities in the restless and relentless pursuit of a society for tomorrow.

Though initially kick started by petro-dollars, the emirate is now diversifying fast. Oil revenues constituted just 35 per cent of the UAE GDP in 2007; the remaining 65 per cent now based on the two Ts of trade and tourism.

The booming emirate is an unbelievably exciting and rapidly-changing place that has got the travel world talking. It seems everyone who’s anyone now has an interest there. This year, Dubai hosted the 8th WTTC Global Travel & Tourism Summit, which provides a vision for the industry for the future, and Dubai in many ways typifies that vision.

The tourism statistics speak for themselves. Occupancy rates for four and five star hotels almost 90%, and the number of hotel guest trebling over the past decade.

A remarkable urban landscape, Dubai is home to iconic structures, with more in the pipeline. The Burj Al Arab is possibly the classic symbol of Dubai – an inspiring feat of architecture rising out of the sand, and a sight that should be seen (and stayed in) to be believed. Meanwhile the Burj Dubai is set to become the world’s tallest skyscraper and symbol of a city given to grandiose aspirations.

Even before its scheduled opening in 2010, The World is attracting media speculation as to which celebrities have bought in on this groundbreaking project. An archipelago of 300 manmade islands off the coast of Dubai created from sand dredged from the sea, The World is one of several tourist and commerce related projects off the coast of Dubai which can be seen from space.

Dubai’s duty-free shopping is legendary, and the city even boasts its very own shopping festival. The malls are glitzy temples of consumerism, sprinkled with designer shops and jewellery stores.

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