Dubai tops Middle East travel destinations

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Dubai likely to surpass Singapore, New York and Paris by 2017, becoming a top-three destination.

A new report by Mastercard shows that Dubai is ranked seventh in a list of the world's top destination cities this year.
City of Dubai covered in fog. A new report by Mastercard shows that Dubai is ranked seventh in a list of the world’s top destination cities this year. Photo-Daniel Cheong

A new report by MasterCard shows Dubai is ranked seventh in a list of the world’s top destination cities this year.

Compared to last year, Dubai rose by one place on the list. The Global Destination Cities Index places Bangkok on top of the rankings. Thailand’s capital is followed by London, Paris, Singapore and New York. Other cities in the top ten list include Istanbul, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Barcelona.

With the total number of tourists expected to increase in the coming years, Dubai is likely to climb the rankings, surpassing Singapore, New York and Paris by 2017, becoming a top-three destination. According to the report; “If all top-10 destination cities maintain their current rates of growth in the next few years, then by 2016 Istanbul will surpass Singapore, New York and Paris in terms of international visitor arrivals; and Dubai will similarly surpass Singapore and New York in 2016 and Paris in 2017.”

Dubai is expected to witness the fastest growth in passenger traffic at almost 11 percent to 9.89 million visitors. The Emirates tourism Vision 2020 clearly outlines how the city will double the number of annual visitors from 10 million in 2012, to 20 million in 2020, while tripling the economic contribution of the tourism sector. Currently, the tourism sector contributes an estimated Dhs100 billion to the UAE economy.

In the Middle East and Africa region (MEA), Abu Dhabi remained the seventh-most popular city. However, it failed to reach the top 20 global list. The city is expected to welcome 1.7 million visitors this year, with that number expected to surge in the coming years. The report points out; “The destination with the strongest growth rate among the top 10 [in the Middle East and Africa] is Abu Dhabi, in seventh rank, with its growth in arrivals in 2013 estimated at 16.1 percent. If the same growth rates are maintained, Abu Dhabi will overtake Lagos in 2016 and match Johannesburg in 2017.”

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