Local Business

UAE ranks highest globally in halal tourism spending

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on September 5, 2018 | Last updated on September 5, 2018 at 06.22 am
UAE ranks highest globally in halal tourism spending
The global Muslim travel segment is currently valued at an estimated Dh660.6 billion.

(File photo)

$17.6 billion was spent by UAE residents outside the country during 2017.

Driven by the UAE, halal tourism is projected to grow further in the coming years due to an increase in the Muslim population and the rise of middle class in Muslim-majority countries.

A new study has revealed that UAE residents are the world's highest spenders of halal tourism outside the country, spending Dh64.6 billion ($17.6 billion) last year.

According to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry analysis based on recent data from Mastercard and the World Travel & Tourism Council, Saudi Arabian travellers were ranked second with Dh59 billion spend followed by Kuwaiti travellers at Dh38.17 billion during the same year.

The study's findings revealed that the global Muslim travel segment is currently valued at an estimated Dh660.6 billion and is forecast to reach Dh807.4 billion by 2020. The number of Muslim travellers globally is expected to increase from the current 131 million to 156 million by the same year.

During 2017, Muslim travellers spent an estimated average of Dh5,042 per person and this figure is projected to increase to Dh5,174.7 by 2020.

The findings revealed that growth is fuelled by demographic and socioeconomic factors, such as growth in the world's Muslim population, rise of the middle class in Muslim-majority countries, improved access to travel information and the increasing availability of Muslim-friendly travel services and facilities.

Majid Saif Al Ghurair, chairman, Dubai Chamber and board member of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC), said halal tourism is one of the main pillars supporting the continued growth of the global Islamic economy.

Jairaj Gorsia, general manager, Gevora Hotel, the world's tallest and dry hotel located on Sheikh Zayed Road, says Muslims tourists, especially from Saudi Arabia, continue to grow. The hotel receives a large number of guests, especially families, from Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries because it is a Shariah-compliant property.

"Families prefer to stay in non-alcoholic hotels because of their religious beliefs and where they can enjoy activities without being exposed. Halal tourism is a big market in the region and it's going pretty strong. Plus, halal hotels' pricing is also right and attractive for customers," said Gorsia.

In order to cash in on the growing halal market, Dubai will host the Global Islamic Economy Summit 2018 on October 30 and 31. In addition, Dubai also hosts the Halal Expo.

The UAE was recently named as a destination of choice for Muslim travellers due to several key factors, including its competitive business environment, wide variety of travel and tourism activities, advanced ICT readiness and world-class airport infrastructure.

Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy and chairman of the DIEDC, has said that Islamic economy generates 8.3 per cent of Dubai's GDP. In 2016, Islamic economy sectors contributed Dh32.77 billion compared to Dh32.21 billion in 2015 and Dh28.78 billion in 2014.

"Our goal of increasing the contribution of Islamic economy sectors to the national GDP by 2021 is well within our reach as long as we continue to implement our strategy on schedule and in productive cooperation with all local and international partners. Dubai is already en route to leading several global Islamic economy indicators by 2021," he said.

Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of DIEDC, said recently that the DIEDC is coordinating with Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology and International Halal Accreditation Forum members to attract more accreditation bodies from other countries and work towards unifying halal standards globally.

- waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com

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