Eid holidays, winter breaks, spring breaks, and summer vacations all have one thing in common: traveling! During those times, we can see news reports that end up with statistics that include big numbers of people traveling abroad. People will either go to tropical destinations, activities filled places, or simply a shopping destination to spend their vacation.

What I noticed recently that there’s a huge trend in people spending their holidays in Arab Gulf countries rather than flying the extra hours to farther countries. We see it all around us, people spending their summer vacation in Dubai to swim with dolphins, some will spend their Eid holiday to check out the new art museum in Qatar, Saudi Arabia famous for it’s religious tourism, while others will have a relaxing weekend at one of Oman’s resorts.

As a Kuwaiti myself, whenever my country has a long weekend or a short break, my family and I pack our bags and head off to Dubai. I also have been trying to convince my family to take a trip to Oman for a relaxing weekend. In all honesty, I don’t mind spending my vacation in a Arab Gulf country. However, that might not be the case with others.

It makes sense to say that the Arab Gulf is a touristic destination to the Arabs themselves. However, does it have the potential of being a popular touristic destination for foreigners as well?

Khaleejesque asked their twitter followers about the Arab Gulf having a popular tourist status, some replied with yes they do, while others said not to foreigners.

One follower tweeted “@fhaid: A popular tourist destination for Arabs and families of expats living in the region. Other than that… I don’t…” What I see at the moment is that some of the Gulf countries have already been trying really hard to establish their country as a touristic destination. Some have already succeeded in making a name for themselves as a popular touristic hub. Another follower makes a valid point by saying that, “@Algheed: Dubai has branded itself as a tourist destination, Oman has loads of potential. Our climate doesn’t really help.”

Let’s take Dubai for instance, year after year, new hotels and resorts are built. They have some of the biggest malls in the Arab Gulf which have services that aren’t offered elsewhere. They took advantage of their deserts by providing desert safaris and camel rides. They also highlighted extreme sports by providing tourists with the only sky diving center in the Gulf. All that worked out perfectly for them, as hotels and resorts have reported an occupancy rate of 90% to 100% during Eid holidays.

The country itself has the upper hand on whether or not it will act as a touristic destination or not. As @mbatal brilliantly puts it by stating that the UAE is already a touristic country, Qatar has sports tourism, Saudi Arabia with its religious tourism. I couldn’t agree more as Qatar, decided to enter the bid against other countries such as the United States for hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. That on its own will garner tons of tourists from all around the world to take part of the games. In addition to that, they started focusing a lot on the arts. With the existence of several museums such as the Museum of Islamic Art and an arab museum of modern art called Mat’haf. Needless to say, they’re actually molding the country into a capital of culture, which is quite genius.

Let us not forget the impact of the tourists themselves. It's been known that foreigners and mostly westerns are very much into culture as we are. They enjoy exploring a country through its local markets to get a feel of the country’s customs. Whether you like it or not, Arab Gulf countries have a lot of culture involved, from arts and crafts to traditional sports and cuisines. Western countries have evolved and managed to forget their history and heritage, Gulf countries however, managed to modernize yet still hold on to its rich culture. Thankfully, I’m not alone on this one as @HeyItsShosh agrees with me as she clearly answered our question, “Absolutely! Our culture and region has so many things to offer to tourists. Regardless of the similarities, it still has diversity.” With that being said, foreigners will enjoy discovering a country that has gone modern with a traditional flare. I think they’ll enjoy that more than the actual citizens.

I truly believe that the Arab Gulf has a lot of potential of becoming a great destination on the global tourist map. Hopefully with time, the rest of the countries will follow suit in Dubai’s footsteps and prove others wrong.

– Hadaya Al-Othman

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