Dubai: "I can't even begin to emphasize the importance and beauty of traveling. Here in Dubai, I'm me - I have my daily routine, my usual group of friends, mom’s food, dad’s rules, cliche nights out, and it's repetitive. Good, but repetitive. When I travel... Every day is a new day, days full of options with choices waiting to be made. All of them new. It’s such a refreshing feeling waking up in a strange city with new things to see and do. It’s like living an alternative life for a few days and I think our souls really need to be reminded that there’s more to the world than just home,” said Menna Hani, an Emirati living and working in Dubai to Gulf News.
Menna’s favourite city to travel to is Seoul, South Korea. “I think the reason I love Seoul so much, is because it is such a major contrast between cultures, way of thinking, and living! It really is a whole other world that is completely different than what we as Arabs know and that is what makes me love it! Plus, skin care, great weather, and amazing food,” she tells Gulf News.
Menna is not alone with her obsession in travel. 68 per cent of UAE’s Gen Z and millennials have visited up to 10 countries until now, bear in mind that the oldest millennial is currently 35 years old. So they probably have plenty more countries to check out.
Gulf News spoke to Ahmed Adly, an avid traveler about his love for travel.
“I absolutely love to travel because the idea of having a whole planet to experience, cultures to be exposed to, people to meet, food to try, history to learn and traditions to see is the only human purpose worth pursuing and literally the key to world peace. You can't have hatred towards different people if you live their life even for a day.”
“Bali is my favorite place on earth,” Ahmed continues.
“It radiates serenity from the second you land to the second you leave. Every hour your travel across Bali you experience a completely different place, I think it's one of the most diverse places on earth and the people and their culture is one of the most welcoming and warmest I've ever experienced. It's one place I can travel to every year.”
It’s clear that young people love to travel. The ones who lead the way as the most well tavelled residents of the UAE, are the Brits.
Britons have taken the top spot for the highest number of international countries visited, according to the “Well Traveled Survey” commissioned by Agoda.com, a digital travel platform. The average British traveler living in the UAE has visited an average of 12 countries, closely followed by Australians who averaged 10 international destinations per person.
According to the survey findings, almost seven out of 10 people living in the UAE have visited up to 10 countries with Arab travelers from United Arab Emirates and from KSA in the lead as the top travelers.
“I love travel for so many reasons,” Shereen El Seewy, an Egyptian living in Dubai, said to Gulf News.
“I feel like I get to disconnect from the busy routine work life. I get to relax, see new faces, new views. More importantly, travelling feeds my love for adventure and new experiences. I feel I learn a lot about life. Get exposed to different cultures, meet new people. I really the reason I am, who I am today is because of the exposure I had during these travels.” Shereen loves travelling so much that she has a dedicated Instagram account just highlighting her travel pictures, Sheeflies.
“My favourite destination so far was Kenya. Met people who come from completely different backgrounds and even though there’s so much that is different from the life in Dubai that I am used to, somehow that simplicity in their lives is so relaxing. Like little things made them happy. So it makes you appreciate all the things you have in life.
“I love traveling because I believe that it gives me the opportunity to discover new places and learn about different cultures and try new food,” Shahira Hosny, a university student based in Sharjah, told Gulf News. “I think that traveling allows people to be pushed out of their comfort zone, while creating new memories especially when traveling with those who matter. It really makes the trip worthwhile.
My favourite place I’ve visited so far was Greece. Everything about it was exciting; the people’s kindness, the culture, the food and most importantly the island hopping.”
The UK has the largest proportion who have traveled to more than 31 destinations (5 per cent), followed by Australia (4 per cent), Thailand (3 per cent) and the United States (2 per cent).
“Whether it’s looking to find yourself or just the need for a relaxing break in the sun after working hard throughout the year, it’s clear people everywhere – regardless of age or gender – love to travel,” says Timothy Hughes, Vice President of Corporate Development at Agoda.
“And with so many ways and reasons to travel, and bustling cities, breathtaking beaches or rich arts and cultural centers to explore, it’s no wonder that the number of people visiting up to 10 countries is so high.”
“I love to travel because I feel like there is a lot of merit and perspective you gain from being in those places,” said Khalid Saleh, a Palestinian American living and working in Dubai.
“You not only learn about these places, you learn about yourself. You learn about your instincts, in an environment that’s foreign to you. You learn about everything again. I love to travel because I learn new things and I learn new things about myself.”
My favourite destination, as of now, is Amsterdam, for many reasons. The first and most obvious reason, was that everyone there, spoke English. I am just going to come out and say it.
Everyone was so nice. The food was excellent, the canals were beautiful. I love that I could walk. I think that’s the one thing I crave when I live in Dubai. I want to be able to walk, and we don’t have a walking culture. I enjoyed the freedom to live and let live.”
Harsh Joshi, an Indian, graphic designer living in Dubai travels regularly every year.
“I love to travel because I get to see something new and different. It’s like giving a different view to your eyes and brain from what you see every day. I love the feeling of being in an airplane. One reason why I love traveling. I also get so excited to be in a place you’ve never seen before and waking up every day looking forward to explore the streets, the food, the monuments and the history. Traveling is a form of education in real time. It teaches you so much, every single minute.
Bali has already made an appearance on this story. It must be quite the popular spot.
“My favorite destination from what I have traveled to till now will always be Bali. It’s the vibe that makes me love it. The beaches, the unreal views, Balinese massages and the food. People are very friendly and simple. Sometimes while traveling if the people are rude (for their personal reasons) it automatically puts you off. But yes Bali will definitely be my favorite destination.
Never traveled abroad
Meanwhile, the data also found that 18 per cent of people surveyed have never traveled to another country at all, with a surprising 13 per cent of over 55s never having traveled internationally.
Unsurprisingly, among the non-Asia Pacific markets (United Kingdom, United States, United Arab Emirates, and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), Americans are the least traveled, with 29 per cent having never been overseas.
Countries where Gen Z and Millennials don’t travel so much
Globally, 27 per cent of 18-24 year olds have never traveled. Millennials from China, Vietnam and Indonesia are most likely to never have traveled at 49 per cent, 45 per cent and 37 per cent respectively. However, in the 25-34 age group, where the global average is 19 per cent having never traveled, Vietnam is pushed out of the bottom by the US.
By 45-54 years old, 86 per cent have traveled abroad, while 81 cent of the 25-34 years age group has already traveled to other countries.
“While it seems Gen Z and Millennials are yet to have the opportunity to travel as extensively abroad as other age groups, the gap between those who have never traveled internationally is shrinking fast. It will be exciting to see the potential cultural and socio-economic gains once those from China, Vietnam and Indonesia start traveling more,” Timothy adds.
Gender is no barrier for travel for Asia Pacific travelers
Overall, 19 per cent of women have never traveled outside their home country versus 17 per cent of men. Only the United States, Vietnam and Indonesia showed significant differences in percentages of males and females traveling – 66 per cent of females versus 76 per cent of males in the United States have traveled internationally at least once, and 67% females compared to 74 per cent of males in Vietnam. Indonesia bucks the trend with 72 per cent of women having traveled internationally before, compared to only 65 per cent of men.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
• At 82 per cent, the largest proportion of people in the KSA have been to 1-10 countries.
• Only 1 per cent of people from the KSA have been to 21 or more countries.
• Of those aged 55 and over in the KSA, 6 per cent have been to 21 or more countries.
United Arab Emirates
• Of those who traveled, UAE showed the biggest difference in male and female travelers. 73 per cent of males have traveled up to 5 countries compared to 81 per cent of females.
• Less than 1 per cent of those aged 18-24 in the UAE have not traveled, with 96 per cent having visited up to 10 countries.