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UAE residents are moving past the pandemic. Return of tourism activities, shopping and in-person events are the evidence for the emirates resilience Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: It looks like UAE’s residents are back to chasing the better experiences life has on offer – and travel is back firmly in their plans. A survey shows that 81 per cent in the 25-34-year category are ready to embrace pre-pandemic shopping, travel, and holiday experiences.

The report, released by software data firm Sitecore, says that 82 per cent of UAE consumers plan to make bigger and “more mindful” holiday purchases this year, fueled in part by the fact that 72 per cent of UAE consumers say they have more savings set aside for the holidays this year compared to last year. “As 83 per cent of consumers in the UAE are very clearly ready to move on from the pandemic,” said Mohammed Alkhotani, Area Vice-President, Sitecore.

Mohammed Alkhotani, Area Vice President – Middle East and Africa, Sitecore
"UAE residents are looking at ‘Holiday 2021’ as the beginning of the rest of their lives," Mohammed Alkhotani, Area Vice-President, Sitecore.

“Our research shows pent-up demand and more savings than usual will result in younger consumers splurging on self-care and big-ticket items at the register, which is great news for those in retail, travel, and hospitality. It’s also heartening to see that 69 per cent of UAE consumers want to support their local community, including locally-owned businesses. The industry will need to respond with more offerings from these businesses.”

Key findings

  • 76% of UAE consumers would prefer experience gifts to “more stuff”.
  • 76% are planning “the trip of a lifetime”.
  • 68% under the age of 44 said they are now more spontaneous, more social, and enjoying life more.
  • 85% under 44 stated that following their experiences during the pandemic they now “value travel and appreciate other cultures more”.
  • 94% of consumers believe it is essential retailers offer more products from locally-owned businesses, but only 60% report seeing more locally-owned products when shopping.
  • 69% are willing to pay more for locally made gifts.
  • 63% are annoyed when they find a purchase was made in China, when they thought it was a local purchase.
  • 92% stated that the pandemic has made them think more carefully about how they spend their money.
  • 43% of those buying a gift for themselves cite “therapy” as the main reason.
Travel is back in a big way with several sourcing markets such as India and UK re-opening. In summer, UAE residents were heading in large numbers to destinations such as Maldives, Armenia, Georgia, Serbia, and Zanzibar.

However, as a per a latest update from UAE’s aviation regulator, UAE nationals are still not allowed to fly to 16 countries, including India, Pakistan, South Africa, Nepal and Nigeria. While this could have an adverse effect on outbound tourism, hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi will be more than eager to welcome domestic tourists, who formed a backbone for the industry during the pandemic.