Last November, the UAE government announced its Tourism Strategy 2031 – a plan that anticipates 40 million visitors annually by 2031. The strategy aims to leverage public-private partnerships and attract over Dh100 billion in new investment in the tourism sector.
Taking inspiration from the UAE’s ambitious strategy, I announced a major Azizi Developments’ investment, which focuses on the hospitality sector in Dubai.
The UAE is already a major tourist destination, ranking number one by popularity and among the Top 10 in the world by volume of visitors. Its matchless travel and tourism infrastructure, the vibrancy of its society and economy and, above all, the welcoming nature of its people, give the UAE what it needs to be the most desirable place to visit for people from all corners of the world.
Last year, despite the residual effects of the pandemic, over 14 million tourists visited the UAE and over 66 million passengers travelled through its airports. As predicted in the national tourism strategy, these figures will grow considerably, and the country must be prepared to accommodate this growth without compromising on the quality of tourist experience.
A hotel building spree
As an entrepreneur and real estate developer, and having made Dubai my home for the last 30 years, I have always taken pride in being part of initiatives that contribute to the growth and prosperity of this country. In this regard, we are launching a new investment plan worth Dh60 billion that focuses on further developing the hospitality sector in Dubai.
As part of the plan, over the next five years, we will build 50 five-star hotels and at least one ‘seven-star’ hotel in Dubai. We plan to introduce our own high-end hotel chain brand, to be run by our top-notch team.
We have already acquired most of the necessary land and planning to launch construction before the end of 2023. Once completed, we will be able to add close to 20,000 new keys to Dubai’s hotel stock. While relatively small in comparison to the gap in hotel capacity that Dubai requires to the meet the growing demand, our project, nonetheless, will represent one of the largest single investments in the industry.
Keep PPP flows smooth and strong
Quite rightly, a key feature of the UAE Tourism Strategy 2031 is its focus on leveraging new investment and resources that can be garnered through public-private partnerships. New investments are needed to further enhance the tourism infrastructure, including expanding aviation links and building new hotel capacity.
This is where the private sector can play a central role. While the country’s leadership determines the vision and lays the foundation, the private sector should step up to the plate and catalyse the growth.
Our new hospitality sector investment plan seeks to contribute to this important goal. We do this not only out of loyalty to our home, but also because it makes business sense. With Dubai continuing to grow in global popularity as a hub for business, innovation and tourism, the surging demand presents a lucrative opportunity to invest and develop.
So much variants to hospitality
More remains to be done. Beyond focusing on upgrading infrastructure, there are also less tangible areas of hospitality that play a major role in enhancing the tourism experience for all visitors.
These include, but are not limited to, the greater use of technology to facilitate access to attractions, enhancing customer service, showcasing the country’s culture and heritage and, above all, emphasising sustainable and eco-friendly ideas.
Diversifying the UAE’s traditional tourism sector to develop and enhance new tourism products - adventure tourism, medical tourism, and cultural tourism, among others, is another crucial priority that will attract a broader range of visitors.
All the above and more represent an outstanding potential for synergy between public and private sector and, in particular, an opportunity for private entities to both contribute and reap the benefits. As the UAE advances in its Tourism Strategy 2031, the entire country share the responsibility to ensure this marvellous country continues to live up to its reputation as the world’s destination of choice.
We are proud to be part of this promising endeavour.
The writer is founder and Chairman of Azizi Developments.