STOCK Tourists Dubai Madinat Jumeirah
File photo: Tourists at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The UAE ranked fourth globally in terms of international tourist spending, with visitors spending Dh224 billion in the country last year, according to a report issued by the World Tourism Organisation on international tourism expenditure.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, took to his official account on X platform to announce the results.

“Two days ago, the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) released a report in which the UAE ranked fourth globally in international tourist spending, with a total of Dh224 billion spent last year,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

The UAE surpassed prestigious countries such as France, Italy, Turkey, and Germany in international tourist spending, ranking just behind the United States, Spain, and the United Kingdom, the Vice-President added.

Sheikh Mohammed announced the results through a short story in the latest in a series of his messages starting with 'life has taught me'.

The Vice-President shared an interesting anecdote: “Amidst the discussions of endless regional crises and challenges by ministers during one of the GCC meetings in the 1980s, I was asked to talk. I was in my mid-30s at the time and was the younger minister attending the session. And as most of them were bored of the never-ending talk of politics, I suggested a different proposal: Why don't we develop the GCC cities into international tourist destinations, starting with Dubai?”

He continued: “All eyes were turned to me, and a brief silence ensued before one of the senior foreign ministers burst into laughter. He then questioned, "What would tourists find in Dubai and our Gulf cities? Desert! sand! heat and humidity!" The room then erupted in laughter once again. However, the minister continued in a more seasoned tone, asking, "So, Sheikh Mohammed, where is the cultural and civilisational heritage, the human history in Dubai that people can visit?"

Carrying on with the story, Sheikh Mohammed said: “I didn't argue with him. Instead, I felt sad because we weren't making better use of our wealth, nor we were placing enough trust in our youth. We seemed reluctant to try anything different from what we were already familiar with.”

Sheikh Mohammed added: “When I read the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) report in which the UAE ranked fourth globally in international tourist spending, I remembered my foreign minister friend!”