DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai opened its doors to tourists Tuesday after nearly four months of closed borders and grounded flights, the latest in the desert city’s efforts to revive an economy slammed by the coronavirus pandemic and deflated oil prices.
The glittering commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates, known for its high-end hotels, dramatic landscapes and superlative attractions like the world’s largest mall and tallest building, is among the first Middle Eastern destinations to restart tourism. But it comes at a challenging time: air travel remains at multi-decade lows, many would-be travelers fear catching the virus, and the Gulf region’s infamous summer temperatures are hitting scorching levels of 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Nevertheless, Dubai Corporation for Tourism CEO Issam Kazim is confident. The emirate has invested heavily in health and safety measures, he told CNBC, and is ready to welcome restless travelers who’ve been grounded in their homes for months.
“We’re very excited about this because tourism is a key pillar for Dubai,” Kazim told CNBC’s Capital Connection. “We have been making sure that the public and visitors’ health and safety is of utmost importance.” Tourism accounts for 11.5% of Dubai’s gross domestic product.
Addressing challenges of the current climate — both in regards to health and weather — Kazim was prudent but hopeful.
“I think we have to be realistic. What happened on a global scale, it’s not something any one of us would have imagined,” he said. “We of course still are very confident, optimistic in a growth surge, and of course we’ve made sure that during this period of time… Dubai remains top of mind.”
In an effort to achieve this, Dubai Tourism launched a series of marketing campaigns, one of which, from June, was called “We Will See You Soon” and promised to welcome visitors in the near future. Its latest rendition, “Ready When You Are,” is a showcase of Dubai’s most famous attractions and adrenaline-filled activities announcing that tourists are welcome once again.