If you think Dubai is just a shopping destination, their tourism industry’s new campaign will make you think again. Set out to promote Dubai as a family holiday destination, Dubai Tourism recently hosted a multi-city road show across India. Talking about it, Khalid M Alawar, manager, India and Pakistan, International Operations, Dubai Tourism, says, “We have seen a lot of traffic coming to Dubai from India during the Diwali holidays. Each person in the family can have different likings, and Dubai is just the place to satisfy everyone. Be it couples travelling for their honeymoon or to celebrate their anniversary, or families with kids, or solo travellers for that matter, Dubai is like a buffet for travellers — there’s something for everyone to enjoy.”
Visa offers and other deals
Big families will be delighted with the news Alawar has to share about the visa offers. “I want to highlight the relaxed visa regulations that are happening in Dubai, which will be very attractive for families coming from India. We have planned that the visa will be waived off completely for children under the age of 18 years between July 15 and September 15 because we want to encourage families to travel to Dubai together. The decision has been approved, but not implemented yet. Once the specifics are finalised on how this can be obtained, we will implement it,” he says.
There’s good news not only for families, but also for professionals who often travel to or via Dubai for work. “For people travelling for business purposes, we recently announced that we are in the process of implementing a directive that Indians with a valid US or UK visa don’t need to go through the regular process for a Dubai visa; they can get visa on arrival. Those who arrive in Dubai in transit can get a 48-hour visa on arrival from any part of the world,” he says.
There has been a lot of investment from the government as well as the private sector towards enriching the experiences of tourists in Dubai, shares Alawar. “There are a number of theme parks, water parks and other family attractions in the city to be explored together with the family.
This apart, the accommodation options in Dubai are numerous. It is easy for anyone to come to Dubai and choose an accommodation that suits their needs, and their pocket,” he says, adding that Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world for women and solo travellers.
“Whether you go online or to a travel agent, all of them are in touch with stakeholders in Dubai to create the best possible packages for their customers. The range of offers during the Diwali period is huge!” he adds.
Still a shoppers’ paradise
Though the city is focusing on ‘family’ to promote tourism, they still remain one of the hottest shopping destinations in the world, quite literally. “When we say we are a family destination, we do not turn our focus away from everything else. Dubai is for everyone, all types of travellers. Dubai has become a flagship destination for shopping. We are only second in the world in terms of number of brands that are available here, we have almost a hundred malls across the city, and we have the biggest mall in the world — the Dubai mall,” says he, adding, “The malls in Dubai provide experiences beyond shopping. People don’t only go to the malls for shopping, but to experience the food at different restaurants, and take advantage of the various attractions within the mall.”
Catch a cruise
Alawar shares that they are in talks with top cruise liners of the world to board and dock in Dubai. “We want people to have the option of experiencing a cruise during their stay in the city. For travellers who are cruising, but would also like to spend some time to see the city, we are making arrangements with cruise liners to dock in the city for varying number of nights,” says Alawar.
There are nine cruises taking off from the city including Pullmantur cruises, MSC cruises and Costa cruises. “Many of them will come to Dubai for an overnight stay, and some of them will dock for more than one night. They will have Dubai-specific itineraries varying from five to seven nights. We are also working towards developing an itinerary for two nights, for travellers who want to have a peek of Dubai before pushing off,” he says.