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The UAE’s reach to draw tourists at Arabian Travel Market

The UAE’s reach to draw tourists at Arabian Travel Market

One of the Middle East’s annual big-ticket industry events, the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), takes place this week in Dubai and opened this morning, while the UAE continues to attract visitors from around the world. Just this year, Dubai was ranked first in the Top 100 City Destinations Index 2023 by Euromonitor International.
This comes against a backdrop of the world recovering from Covid-19, high inflation rates affecting travel, and turmoil in the region. Although the global travel market continues to recover, few can doubt that the dark clouds that have hovered over the Middle East since the Israel-Gaza war broke out in October of last year have taken a toll on tourism and business travel alike in countries like Egypt and Jordan.

Gathering the industry’s stakeholders to work through some of its challenges, however, is part of what the ATM is about. This year, the number of exhibitors is up to 2,300, and they will attend a range of panel discussions about subjects such as strengthening the sector’s resilience, future proofing it from global economic disruptions and reinforcing security.

By the time the event concludes, participants will have heard from 200 speakers, on subjects such as innovation and entrepreneurship (this year’s theme is “empowering innovation: transforming travel through entrepreneurship”), and about 41,000 people from 165 countries would have attended some of these sessions, concluded significant deals and drawn up business plans for the next year.

The ATM provides an important opportunity for destinations to update the world on their latest touristic developments, whether it’s Abu Dhabi displaying the variety of experiences the emirate has to offer; Sharjah putting forwards its innovation projects; Saudi Arabia attracting visitors to its lesser known leisure attractions; or Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Tourism presenting the best of the country’s tourist sites.

While the UAE and the GCC are desirable destinations on their own, with much to offer in terms of retail, heritage and hospitality, they become all the more of a draw to travellers in the current context as they remain untouched by fears of war.


For those from growing markets such as China and India, the UAE and GCC are appealing repeat destinations that are not too far, and have all of the comforts.

The situation for other parts of the Middle East is more challenging. The Israel-Gaza war stretches on, its many, varied repercussions become even clearer. Beyond the tragic and needless loss of lives, the economic effects of the war have not been contained to the war zone. Many of these have been felt in neighbouring countries. One consequence has been the disrupted livelihoods, an impact of the dip in tourism to countries in the Levant, including Lebanon and Jordan, and Palestinian territories especially East Jerusalem . A ceasefire and permanent peace would ultimately bring back the tourists to those historically rich places with abundant natural beauty.

As when travel rebounded after Covid-19, there will be be plenty of lessons in how to ride over the turbulence that hit livelihoods of tour operators and employees of the hotel and airline industries due to the conflict. While countries can learn from each other’s strategies to cope with economic distress or geopolitical conflict, and help tourism, we can also all get behind the idea of travelling to new places and broadening horizons.

Source: The National