“Egypt is one of the most important markets for Dubai in the region”: Head of Region – GCC and MENA International Operations Ahmed Al-Marri

The twenty-eighth session of the Dubai Shopping Festival, organized by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, kicked off on December 15 and will continue until January 29, 2023.

The Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) organized a promotional campaign regionally and globally, including in Egypt given that is one of the 20 largest major markets – ranking 11th – exporting tourists to Dubai.

Egyptian tourist flows to Dubai recorded an increase of 34 percent during 2021 and 2022.

In an interview with the Head of Region – Gulf Cooperation Council and the Middle East and North Africa International Operations at the Department of Economy and Tourism in Dubai Ahmed al-Marri, he emphasized that Egypt is one of the most important markets for Dubai in the region. About 167,000 Egyptians visited Dubai from January to November 2011, and were among the most spending tourists during their stay.

He also explained that United Arab Emirates (UAE) tourism officials were therefore eager to launch a promotional campaign in the two most important cities in Egypt, namely Cairo and Alexandria, for the 28th session of the Dubai Shopping Festival, one of the most important pillars on which the UAE relies to implement its National Tourism Strategy 2031. The strategy aims to strengthen the UAE’s position as a tourist destination, based on increasing tourism diversity by taking advantage of the characteristics of the seven emirates of the country.

What are the most important objectives of this strategy?

Marri: According to what Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister, and Minister of Defence of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai announced, the most important goal is to accelerate competitiveness by attracting AED100 billion (US$27.2 billion) in additional tourism investments for this vital sector, and reaching 40 million hotel guests in 2031, especially that today Dubai is among the top ten tourist destinations in the world.

In addition to the above, tourism is an important part of diversifying our national economy, and a vital tributary to consolidate our global competitiveness. For example, UAE airports received 22 million passengers in the first quarter of this year only. Therefore, our goal is for the tourism sector to contribute $122.4 billion to our GDP in 2031. We also aim, according to this strategy, to attract 40 million guests in hotel establishments.

What are the foundations and dimensions on which this strategy is based?

Marri: The strategy includes the implementation of 25 initiatives to support the development of the tourism sector in the country, and is based on four main dimensions, which are strengthening the national tourism identity, developing and diversifying specialized tourism products, building tourism abilities and encouraging national cadres to join the tourism sector, and increasing investments in various tourism sectors in a way that enhances the state’s efforts to provide an attractive and safe tourism environment, integrated tourism services, diverse destinations, and advanced infrastructure for the tourism sector.

What are the most important activities of the current session of the Dubai Shopping Festival?

Marri: This session will be full of events, especially as it comes after the coronavirus pandemic’s lockdown has lifted. Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment has prepared great surprises for Dubai residents and visitors from all over the world, who will be on a date with many entertainment events, wonderful shopping experiences, amazing promotions and prizes at a value of millions of dirhams.

Visitors, citizens and residents will also be able to enjoy one of the best New Year celebrations in the world, in addition to enjoying variety of experiences such as unique food, huge raffles and valuable offers by the most prominent local and international brands. Concerts and live performances of stars from across the region and internationally will be held during the festival, as well as various events and activities at the most important shopping centers and beaches.

Not only that, amazing fireworks and drone light shows will return to this year’s edition of the festival alongside “Dubai Tunes” events, where entertainment and live performances of some of the most famous talents in the region are presented, as well as concerts by great singers from the Arab world.

What are the facilities that Dubai plans to provide to visitors?

Marri: New amendments have been introduced to the tourist visa system that will greatly benefit Egyptians. The UAE has made it possible to apply for a multiple-entry tourist visa valid for five years from the date of issuance, without requiring a guarantor or a host inside the country, provided that they stay in the country for a period not exceeding 90 days a year.

Will these amendments be for everyone or for specific groups?

Marri: The new UAE executive regulations for the entry and residence of foreigners, which came into force on October 3, set four requirements for obtaining visa, as the new visas give several advantages, allowing the beneficiary to stay in the country for a continuous period not exceeding 90 days, a period that may be extended for a similar period, provided that the full period of stay does not exceed 180 days in one year.

It is also permissible to extend the period of stay in the country for a period of more than 180 days in a year in exceptional cases, to be determined by a decision issued by the President of the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security.


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