At the end of 2008, 22,000 new hotel rooms are available in Dubai alone, capable of sustaining in an adequate manner the unstoppable growth of the city, which is among the most luxurious and sought after international tourism destinations in the world. At present it offers 415 hotels in different categories and furnished apartments, with a total of around 40,000 rooms and is the city with the highest density of receptive structures per kilometre, and also the third city in the world as far as luxury hospitality is concerned.
This is a genuinely emblematic introduction, when we are talking about tourism in the United Arab Emirates. In effect, Dubai is just the tip if the iceberg of tourism in the Emirates, since the other 6 Emirates are also showing great dynamism and a desire for growth in this sector.
It is above all thanks to the farsightedness of Sheik Zayed, founder of the federation of the United Arab Emirates – the event took place on 2 December 1971 – that this country has been able to invest successfully in its future, leaving a limited space to oil in long term projects. His awareness both of the fact that the black gold will eventually run out and of the intrinsic potential of the territory – notwithstanding the fact that its is partly desert and has a climate which is definitely not an easy one – brought him to mature a decision to sustain and amplify those prerogatives of tourism that he had wisely divined. On the wave of enthusiasm felt by all the Sheiks leading the newly united Emirates, not only did numerous receptive structures emerge for sport and recreation, shopping malls, tourist ports, theatres, cinemas and everything else that makes a tourist destination appetising and functional, but also a series of road, port and airport infrastructures which have made it possible both to reach the United Arab Emirates from all continents, and to enjoy mobility within their territory. In any event, work is still “in progress”, given that the exponential growth of the UAE in world tourism makes continuous extensions and the construction of new infrastructures indispensable. Among the “new entries”, the underground railway in Dubai, which will be completed within a very few years, is of particular interest, together with new international airports.
Tourist hospitality in the Arab Emirates, in any event, has rather differing characteristics, according to the city that is taken into consideration. In luxurious and fashionable Dubai, where there is an almost infinite range of lodgings: from the fable-like Burj Al Arab (the extremely famous 7 star hotel in the shape of a sail, built on an artificial island opposite the city port and linked to land by a steel bridge) to the enchanting 4, 5 and 5-luxury star hotels, which have excellent comforts and numberless entertainment opportunities. There are also numerous small to middle range hotels, capable of offering more than satisfactory levels of service and positions which are often strategic, at more contained prices.
In general, and independently of their category, all Dubai hotel rooms (as for that matter all the communal areas and closed spaces in the city) are completely air conditioned with a view to making the city liveable and enjoyable also during the summer months (from April to October when temperatures rise to very high levels). Furthermore, essential services in the rooms include a mini-bar, TV and radio as well as bathroom facilities. In communal areas, apart from the availability of multilingual personnel, the hotels offer local and international cuisine, taverns, snack bars, discothèques, meetings rooms and for conferences, internet points (every room four star or above and in any event equipped with ADSL), transfer service and excursions.
The capital of the Arab Emirates also offers a range of receptive structures which is very ample and qualitatively excellent.
It is a city which is a centre for economic and financial exchange and therefore favourite destination not only for the large international Holdings, but also for a great number of banks and the ever-present exchange bureaus, and it demonstrates a considerable propensity for business tourism, while also guaranteeing attractiveness and stimulating itineraries (thanks also to its interesting museums and artistic attractions) to the ever growing number of leisure tourists. Here, the growth in the number of available hotels, the occupation rate for rooms and the economic return in the hospitality sector, has touched levels which were so unexpected as to induce local businesses (and not only) to engage in the almost immediate planning and realisation of new receptive structures.
The other 5 Emirates
Decidedly smaller, but rich in natural beauty, are developing a network of infrastructures suitable for offering hospitality to a good number of guests, largely holiday-makers (above all interested in itineraries regarding history, art, culture and traditions) and in smaller measure, businessmen, which will not, however, alter the character of these places which will continue to preserve a spontaneous and natural relationship with the environment and the local population.
The great protagonist in Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujarah is the sea with its fascinating stretches of beaches which have exceptionally white sand, often rendered even more precious by splendid equatorial vegetation. The receptive structures, which are less imposing and more intimate, offer numerous accommodation opportunities; both in terms of refinement and typology, ranging from the hotel and the residence to the completely furnished apartment. Here also, in any event, there is no lack of villas to rent or buy, to make of these pearls of the Arabian Gulf your own home-holiday.
Photograph provided courtesy of Elhajis
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