Tourism in Dubai and Its Impacts on the Region


Dubai embraces tourism as a core component in the goal to diversify its economy. The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has invested in luxurious facilities and conducted massive and extensive marketing campaigns to reach potential tourists (Bagaeen, 2007). Indeed, Dubai is witnessing an exponential growth in the number of tourists who are visiting the city. This number is expected to rise in the future as DTCM continues to market Dubai as a global tourist hub. In 1985, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) government identified tourism as a potential industry and decided to invest in infrastructural development in Dubai. Supported by extensive federal policies, the government began to invest considerably in the tourism sector. Later, tourism became one of the primary sources of income in Dubai. The decision to transform Dubai into a tourist destination came as a result of the failure of oil production in the region and the desire for economic diversification (Bagaeen, 2007). The UAE government had to choose an economic activity from a collection that comprised tourism, telecommunication, construction, financial trading, and media. The government opted for tourism since it was easy to start and manage. Currently, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing is responsible for managing the tourism industry in Dubai. The department has a vision to transform Dubai into a global tourism and commercial center.

Literature Review

In 2002, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing established the Dubai Convention Bureau (DCB) to assist the emirate in the management of all the global tenders aimed at drawing crucial business activities to Dubai. The DCB is also responsible for marketing Dubai as a conventions and meetings destination. It also organizes and takes part in workshops, trade shows, and roadshows aimed at promoting Dubai as a major business tourism hub (Sharpley, 2013). One of the factors that made Dubai a global tourist destination is its established transport infrastructure. The tourists from different countries can quickly access Dubai via air transport. Moreover, Dubai markets itself as “a cruising hub and destination using the Singapore model, therefore waging tough competition to the crowded Caribbean and Mediterranean region” (Balakrishnan, 2008, p. 67).

Both Dubai and Singapore promote themselves as cruising hubs and destinations. The tourism authorities in Dubai and Singapore strive to prove to the international cruise industry that their destinations are potential substitutes to the busy waters of the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Dubai and Singapore have streamlined their visa application procedures to attract more tourists. Moreover, they have expanded their cruise terminals to handle larger ships. Currently, the Dubai Cruise Terminal can handle two liners concurrently (Bagaeen, 2007). In Singapore, foreigners do not necessarily have to obtain a visa to be allowed to enter the country. However, all the visitors must have a valid passport and assure the government that they have adequate money to facilitate their stay in the country. Besides, they must prove that they are in the country for a short period. On the other hand, all the tourists are required to have travel permits in order to enter Dubai. Nevertheless, the citizens from Canada, New Zealand, and Australia are exempted from obtaining permits. However, they must have valid passports. Dubai is strict on drug trafficking, and tourists are screened before they enter the city.

In Singapore, tourists use both road and railway means of transport to commute from one attraction site to another. The country has advanced road and rail networks. Besides, Singapore relies on Changi Airport that connects it to the outside world. On the other hand, Dubai relies heavily the on-road transport. The city has an established road network that enables tourists to travel from one place to another. Moreover, it relies on air transport. Bagaeen (2007) alleges that Dubai is connected to over 120 countries via air. Hence, most tourists access the city through the air transport.

According to Balakrishnan (2008), “Dubai acts as a regional entrepot and promotes itself as the commercial and financial nexus of the Gulf region” (p. 68). Also, it is perceived as a relatively tolerant and multi-ethnic society. Therefore, a majority of tourists feel secure whenever they visit Dubai. The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing in collaboration with the tourism industry and Emirates Airlines contributed to the growth of Dubai as a major city in the tourism field. They launched enormous promotions on foreign media aimed at marketing Dubai to the global market. Besides, they organized roadshows and promotional tours that increased the demand for Dubai Market.

Dubai benefits from the tourism industry in many ways. The industry acts as a primary source of foreign exchange for the city. The income generated through tourism contributes to the development of Dubai. Also, tourism has created numerous jobs for local people in Dubai. Tourism has led to the construction of various hospitality facilities. In return, the majority of the locals have been assimilated into the hospitality services as chefs, waiters, or tour guides. According to Balakrishnan (2008), tourism helps to improve the image of a country or city. It gives a city a chance to market its heritage and showcase its potential. Indeed, tourism boosted the reputation of Dubai globally. Today, many tourists visit Dubai due to its popularity.

Even though Dubai has significantly benefited from tourism, it has also encountered numerous challenges. Tourism has notably contributed to the environmental pollution in Dubai. Even though tourists are known to be environmentally conscious, their sheer number contributes to the ocean pollution (Balakrishnan, 2008). Also, tourism has created a disparity in income generation in Dubai. The majority of residents have abandoned other sources of income generation. Hence, the economy of Dubai may come to a halt in case of the political instability in the Middle East.

Homosexuality is proscribed in Dubai and perpetrators can face extradition or a jail term. In addition, tourists are not allowed to kiss in public. Previously, many expatriates were extradited because of engaging in unethical behaviors like having sex or kissing in public. All the tourists are obliged to respect some Muslim religious practices. For instance, visitors are not allowed to “drink or eat in public places in the daytime during Ramadan fasting” (Balakrishnan, 2008, p. 71). Also, tourists are required to wear modest clothes. They are not allowed to dress indecently in public places such as shopping malls. For instance, sleeveless tops are prohibited. According to Henderson (2006), Dubai’s criminal law emphasizes on dress code. The law requires people to wear clothes of an appropriate length. Also, alcohol is only sold in some designated hotels and restaurants. Alternatively, visitors and expatriates may buy alcohol and drink it in their private rooms.

Henderson (2006) alleges, “A majority of the major capital cities operate direct flights to Dubai” (p. 91). Indeed, over 120 airline companies have offices in Dubai. Also, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing has established cruise terminals in Dubai that have attracted cruise line operators from various countries. Today, Dubai receives cruises from Sydney, Singapore, Barcelona, and New York among other cities (Henderson, 2006). Dubai has a remarkable network of state-of-the-art roads that link it to major villages and towns. Moreover, it has a multi-lane highway that connects it to Abu Dhabi. Hence, it is easy for tourists to move from one city or village to another. Apart from the sophisticated road network, Dubai has one of the best taxi services in the world. Therefore, tourists can use a taxi to travel from one attraction site to another.

The primary objective of the UAE government is to make Dubai the first tourist destination globally. Some of the tourist attractions include “parks and zoos, Hindu temples, entertainment places, beaches, recreation places, museums, exhibitions, and trade shows among others” (Henderson, 2006, p. 95). Currently, numerous tourist attractions are under development. They include Sahara Kingdom, Dubai Motor City, City of Arabia, and the Culture Village. Dubai has numerous leisure facilities that include Dubai Festival City, Global Village, Ski Dubai, and Dune bashing among others. The majority of the entertainment facilities are furnished with hotels and golf courses. Some facilities offer diving competition and windsurfing. Also, Dubai organizes Dubai Summer Surprises that is a chain of amusement events programmed to run concurrently with the shopping gala (Kumar, 2013).

The majority of tourists are not allowed to visit Dubai without visas. However, tourists from New Zealand, Australia, and Canada are allowed to do this if they have valid passports. In addition, visitors from Germany, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, the United States, and Greece, among other countries, are allowed to reside in Dubai for 30 days without visas. Once a tourist leaves UAE, she/he is required to remain in the home country for 30 days before applying for a new visa. Kumar (2013) claims, “For citizens of visa-on-arrival countries, the first permit is free, but if you want a second visa for another 30 days and you have to pay a fee of $170 at the local immigration department in Dubai” (p. 16). Alternatively, a tourist may depart to another country via road. In such a case, a tourist is required to pay a little amount of money for visa renewal. The renewed visa expires in 40 days.

Dubai has numerous leisure facilities that include Dubai Festival City, Global Village, Ski Dubai, and Dune bashing, etc. The majority of the entertainment facilities are furnished with hotels and golf courses. Some facilities offer diving competition and windsurfing. Also, Dubai organizes the Dubai Summer Surprises, which is a chain of amusement events programmed to run concurrently with the shopping gala (Stephenson & Ali-Knight, 2010). Dubai is regarded as the “shopping capital of the Middle East” (Kumar, 2013, p. 15). Many tourists visit Dubai to do shopping. The city is renowned for its markets that sell assorted products. Also, Dubai has modern boutiques and shopping malls. The majority of electronic shops, boutiques, and departmental stores sell their products at low prices, thus attracting customers from different countries. Dubai’s most fascinating shopping experience is entrenched in its souks (markets) where bargaining is the order of the day.

According to Kumar (2013), tourist accommodation in Dubai is omnipresent and moderately costly. Dubai city is a home to all the major hospitality companies in the world. In 2013, the UAE government announced that it intended to build its first submerged hotel in Dubai. Currently, there are two private submerged hotels in the city of Dubai. The city has numerous 5-star hotels that offer accommodation for tourists from all the countries. Besides, there are various standard and deluxe hotel apartments that cater to both domestic and foreign tourists. Plans are underway to construct various 7-star hotels to cater for the increased number of visitors.

Dubai will host the World Expo in 2020, whose theme is “Connecting minds, creating the future” (Sharpley, 2013, p. 21). The city intends to use this opportunity to advocate cooperation between countries. The Expo will have numerous benefits to the tourism industry. It will give Dubai a chance to market its tourism industry to the global market. Besides, it will facilitate the growth of tourism facilities like restaurants.

The future of Dubai’s tourism industry depends on the city’s ability to remain stable both politically and economically. Dubai depends on global and regional economies. Thus, the current state of political instability in the Middle East can adversely affect the future of its tourism industry. On the other hand, Dubai is yet to venture in health tourism, which is a lucrative sector. Currently, the United Arab Emirates is working with Harvard Medical School to manage Dubai Healthcare City (Lis, 2009). The collaboration will help Dubai to invest in medical tourism in the future.

Identification of Knowledge-gap

The number of tourists in Dubai is expected to reach 150 million by 2025. Even though the tourism industry is working hard to ensure that it will be able to handle this growth, no study focuses on the possible impacts of this explosive growth. Moreover, no study identifies the difficulties and drivers that could limit, boost or sustain the projected growth in the tourism industry. Technological, political, regional security, economic, environmental, and social trends have effects on the tourism industry. Currently, there are no studies that focus on how these trends will affect the future of the tourism industry in Dubai.

Problem Statement

Dubai is regarded as a global tourist destination. Currently, the UAE government is in the process of transforming Dubai into the best tourist hub in the world. This proposal intends to discuss the state of the tourism industry in Dubai and its impacts on the region.


The primary objective of this research is to determine the benefits of the tourism industry in Dubai and the Middle East. The research will also determine the cultural ethics and dress codes that affect the tourism industry. In addition, the study will identify factors that have led to Dubai growing into a major tourist destination in the world.


Due to the time constraint, the research will not use quantitative data. Additionally, the comparison between Dubai and Singapore will focus on infrastructural development. The research will not compare tourism expenditures or revenues of the two countries. Tourists are required to meet multiple entry regulations before they visit Dubai. This research will not discuss all the regulations. Instead, it will focus on requirements for visa application.


  • H1: Improved transport infrastructure and aggressive marketing campaigns are some of the factors that have contributed to the growth of the tourism industry in Dubai.
  • H2: The tourism industry has contributed to the economic growth in Dubai and the Middle East at large.
  • H3: The availability of restaurants and accommodation facilities promote the growth of the tourism industry in Dubai.


Data Collection

Numerous scholarly articles document the success of Dubai as a tourist destination. Hence, this proposal will rely on secondary data from peer-reviewed journals. The journals will be selected based on their date of publication, and only those that are less than ten years old will be used. Also, the research will use questionnaires to gather primary data from tourism authorities and hospitality companies. A total of 20 hospitality companies will be randomly selected. The study will take three weeks. The authority will be required to explain the measures taken to promote the tourism industry. Moreover, it will be required to demonstrate how Dubai has benefited from the tourism industry. The hospitality companies will be required to discuss their contribution to the growth of the tourism industry. Besides, they will explain how they have benefited from the industry as well as their plan. Due to the competition among the hospitality companies, information shared by individual companies will be treated with the highest level of confidentiality. Other companies should not know the plans of their competitors as this may trigger unhealthy competition.

Data Analysis

The proposal will use a comparative approach to analyze secondary data. Information from different scholarly journals will be compared and deductions will be made from similar data. On the other hand, the research will use quasi-statistics approach to analyze the primary data. The researcher will count the number of times the participants give similar answers. In other words, the information will be adopted based on the number of times it appears in the questionnaires.


Tourism authority has worked hard to market Dubai as a tourist destination in the world. The researcher discovered that the tourism authority in collaboration with DTCM had organized multiple promotional campaigns aimed at marketing Dubai. The authority alleged that tourism has facilitated economic growth in Dubai. On the other hand, participants from the hospitality industry asserted that the growth of tourism has led to an increase in their profit margin. Additionally, the participants from the hospitality industry claimed that they work in collaboration with tourism authorities to market Dubai as a tourist destination. They allege that hospitality companies fund tourism campaigns and also run advertisements in foreign media.

Importance and Contribution of the Study

One of the importance of this proposal is that it will help to know the state of the tourism industry in Dubai and the factors that have facilitated its growth. Moreover, it will assist learners to understand the benefits of the tourism industry as an economic activity. The data collected will also be of significant help to other countries and individuals who might wish to invest in the tourism industry in the future.


Today, Dubai is one of the renowned tourist destinations in the world. It harbors numerous tourist attractions that include zoos, recreation facilities, beaches, and museums. The tourism acts as a primary source of employment for local people in the city. Besides, it has led to the growth of Dubai city and boosted the city’s profile globally. This study has helped to identify the factors that have contributed to the growth of Dubai as a global tourist destination. Besides, the study has helped identify the benefits of the tourism industry. No study touches on the nature of medical tourism in Dubai. Therefore, future research should focus on this area. The research should determine the potential benefits of medical tourism. Moreover, it should focus on the measures that Dubai needs to take to venture into medical tourism. The future research should help Dubai to diversify its tourism industry.


Bagaeen, S. (2007). Brand Dubai: The instant city: or the instantly recognizable city. International Planning Studies, 12(2), 173-197.

Balakrishnan, M. (2008). Dubai-a star in the east: A case study in strategic destination branding. Journal of Place Management and Development, 1(1), 62-91.

Henderson, J. (2006). Tourism in Dubai: Overcoming barriers to destination development. International Journal of Tourism Research, 8(1), 87-99.

Kumar, B. (2013). Tourism in Dubai: The sunrise sector. Middle East Journal of Business, 7(1), 15-21.

Lis, S. (2009). Dubai, from the scratch until today: A new vision for tourism. Munich: GRIN Publishing.

Sharpley, R. (2013). Planning for tourism: The case of Dubai. Tourism and Hospitality Planning & Development, 5(1), 13-30.

Stephenson, M., & Ali-Knight, J. (2010). Dubai’s tourism industry and its societal impact: Social implications and sustainable challenges. Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change, 8(4), 278-292.

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