The First Resort

Article excerpt

IN THE PAST few years, Dubai has been made a concerted effort to build a tourism base in two ways. As more businessmen come to the Emirate which has recovered strongly from the traumas of the Gulf War, they are persuaded to stay on and enjoy the cosmopolitan holiday atmosphere. At the same time, Dubai is being actively marketed as a year-round holiday destination in its own right.

Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Commerce and Tourism Promotion Board, feels Dubai has earned its reputation as the business, shopping entertainment and sports capital of the Middle East. He also feels Dubai offers "a distinctive blend of modern city and timeless desert, East and West, old and new, and unlike an increasing number of cities, Dubai's streets are safe - night and day."

It is no coincidence that the government combines trade with tourism. Patrick Macdonald, his deputy director, points out that the two are intertwined. "From an early stage," he says, "the government decided that it was important to join the two, and it has proved increasingly successful. We are also promoting Dubais as a conference and exhibition centre, and have a growing incentive business."

Dubai has many attributes of Singapore, and could be called the "Singapore of the Middle East." There are similarities, - not least an impressive and well organised airport; a strong, well respected national airline; and excellent range of cost competitive duty free shopping; high quality hotels; a relatively advanced infrastructure; and the increasing ability to find sufficient of interest to occupy the most discerning visitor.

With its tradition as a trading nation, and the success it has gained as it has developed its important entrepot trade, Dubai has also become tolerant and cosmopolitan, and as such also offers holiday facilities appreciated by neighbouring Arab countrymen. Charter flights from Moscow and Baku bring a further dimension.

As Emirates, the national airline, expands, so more and more countries are served by direct flights. Dubai International Airport is now the biggest in the Middle East. Some 60 airlines are now using the airport which averages 160 flights each day to over 100 destinations. …